Ukraine has to agree on the format of the contact group – let it be weak, but it has to contribute to the lessening of intensity. This opinion was expressed in the comment to the GORDON by the former Head of the Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine General Nikolay Malomuzh.
"Representatives of Russia and Ukraine have already agreed on ceasefire at the level of contact groups, but the mechanism has not been established out yet, though the process has already begun. Contacts were established with Russian representatives not only through the Ministry of Defense, but also through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Presidential Administration, and this position was coordinated," the general reported.
According to him, there was controversy concerning control of the airport – whether to yield it or not, whether to leave the line as before or to draw a new one. "Essentially, it has been agreed that both parties support ceasefire," Muzhenko noted.
In his opinion, the Norman format of negotiations is more effective, but is less realistic now. The general deems it necessary to hold a meeting of the contact group concerning settlement of the conflict under the Minsk accords in the nearest future. "There are objections to the Norman format, but this format is strategically significant. Angela Merkel declared that they will continue to initiate it. These prospects are more effective though more remote," he emphasized.
Malomuzh noted that the Russian Federation implies freezing of the conflict. "Actually, what they need is to prevent armed forces of Ukraine to approach positions DNR and LNR because they say that Ukraine allegedly benefits from the situation in order to stop the armed conflict and to attack the terrorists. Russia has now mobilized all forces both at the bilateral level between Ukraine and Russia and at the international level. They even accuse our party of initiating this operation, while the terrorists proceed protecting themselves," Malomuzh reported.
He is convinced that Russia wants to freeze the conflict along the demarcation line defined by the Minsk accords. "Judging by the number of victims, Russians try to motivate at all international levels that it must be stopped immediately, and the conflict must be frozen within the previous borders, i.e. along the demarcation line as defined by the Minsk accords. For the recent days, Russia has not managed to implement scenarios on those 17 objects that they planned to use to expand the zone of their influence, starting from the airport, Debaltsevo, Peski, Avdeevka, Shchastye, and Mariupol. They failed though they expected to seize these objects after New Year. The operation failed so the ceasefire and freezing of the conflict within the present borders is in question now," the general noted.
In his opinion, if the Russian Federation does not manage it, it will take a second step: it will warn all international organizations, first of all the UNO that Ukraine pursues an aggressive policy, and it is simply forced to implement the concept adopted a month ago. "The concept of protecting the territories where Russian-speaking and Russian citizens live. First of all, they include Donetsk and Lugansk regions. They can carry out direct invasion allegedly for the protection of citizens. But this will already be a large-scale invasion, and it will mean war," Malomuzh explained.
The general emphasized that the main target is "to stop all the existent barrage fire." "I would follow another scenario and would not initiate conflict deployment; I would stop at the level of tactical groups, i.e. contact groups including Russia, Ukraine, and the OSCE and terrorist structures of DNR and LNR in the ATO zone. It is necessary to stop all the existent barrage fire. The second stage is to agree on the format of the contact group, let it be weak, but it has to contribute to the lessening of intensity. And then we should discuss the Norman or a wider format of conflict settlement with participation of the USA, Russia, and Ukraine. Such a scenario is the most realistic, but it should be pursued till the end. If we start clearing up the territories, I can say (and I rely on up-to-date information) that Russia will initiate the scenario of large-scale invasion," the expert summed up.