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Peace settlement in Ukraine requires 'enormous external pressure on Kiev'

Published time: June 23, 2014 15:26
Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko awards a serviceman wounded during fighting with  separatists, at a hospital in Kiev in this June 21, 2014 picture provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Service (Reuters)

Stopping the bloodshed in Eastern Ukraine can only be externally imposed on the Kiev government, and at the moment there is a little sign of it, international legal expert Alexander Mercouris told RT.

RT: The truce in Ukraine has apparently been broken. Why do you think President Poroshenko's peace plan isn't working?

Alexander Mercouris: The reason is that effectively what Mr. Poroshenko has done is rather than negotiating an agreement and a truce with the people he is fighting, he has made, in a form of a peace plan, what is basically a demand that they simply stand down, surrender, leave the Ukraine go to Russia so that he can impose his own political settlements on the East of the country. That was never going to happen. I can’t believe that he thought it was going to happen. That is not the way you end a conflict and the conflict is not ended.

RT: Along with the regular army, the Ukrainian government uses paid conscripts to fight in the East. How much control do authorities have over such groups?

AM: I doubt that they have very much. If we look at organizations like “Right Sector”, which are apparently present in the East, their paramilitary organizations, they are not under the direct control of the Ukrainian government. Frankly, I doubt that the Ukrainian government has much control even over the groups like the National Guard, which are present in full force in Eastern Ukraine and which of course are recruited specifically from regions which are known to be hostile to the aspirations of the Eastern Ukrainians. So actually I doubt that the government or Mr. Poroshenko has much control over them.

RT: There are strong advocates of the continued crackdown among the Ukrainian elite, whose private guards are also taking part in the military operation. Taking this into account, how can President Poroshenko be sure his peace initiative is being observed?

AM: They are not being observed and I don’t really seriously believe that they are going to be observed. I don’t personally have any expectations or hopes of anything coming out of this process. If there is going to be a peace settlement in Ukraine, it is going to be externally imposed, and there are discussions on the way between the Russians, the Germans and the French which might lead to that. Whether they will remains to be seen.

RT: President Poroshenko's peace plan does not imply holding talks with leaders of the self-proclaimed republics in the East. Why do you think he's refusing to have dialogue?

AM: I think the fundamental problem is that the people in Kiev do not accept and cannot bring themselves to accept that the people in Eastern Ukraine reject them, that people in Eastern Ukraine don’t accept the legitimacy of the coup that brought them [Kiev authorities] to power. The consistent practice of the Maidan movement out of which this new government in Kiev has emerged is to pursue confrontation whenever it meets any resistance at all and whenever that resistance grows it pursues more confrontation and that has been a pattern in Eastern Ukraine still. I think it would frankly require enormous external pressure on Kiev for that to change, and at the moment there is little sign of it.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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