While Washington and Moscow are posturing and affirming that nothing in Ukraine will be relinquished, John Kerry and Sergei Lavrov have concluded an oral preliminary agreement to get out of the crisis: a federal reform of the Ukrainian constitution. The question is whether the United States will honor their word this time, after having reneged on the 21 February agreement half a day after signing it and perpetrating a coup d’état.
There was another phone call today between Secretary of State Kerry and the Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov. The call came after a strategy meeting on Ukraine in the White House. During the call Kerry agreed to Russian demands for a federalization of the Ukraine in which the federal states will have a strong autonomy against a neutralized central government. Putin had offered this “off-ramp” from the escalation and Obama has taken it.
The Russian announcement:
Lavrov, Kerry agree to work on constitutional reform in Ukraine
(Reuters) – Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry agreed on Sunday to seek a solution to crisis in Ukraine by pushing for constitutional reforms there, the Russian foreign ministry said.It did not go into details on the kind of reforms needed except to say they should come “in a generally acceptable form and while taking into the account the interests of all regions of Ukraine (…)
Sergei Lavrov and John Kerry agreed to continue work to find a resolution on Ukraine through a speedy launch of constitutional reform with the support of international community,” the ministry said in a statement .
The idea of a “constitutional reform” is from the Russians documented in the following russian document :
It describes the process of getting to a new Ukrainian constitution and sets some parameters for it. The Russian language will be again official language next to the Ukrainian, the regions will have high autonomy, there will be no interferences in church affairs and the Ukraine will stay politically and militarily neutral. Any autonomy decision by the Crimea would be accepted. This would all be guaranteed by a “Support Group for Ukraine” consisting of the US, EU and Russia and would be cemented in an UN Security Council resolution.
It seems that Kerry and Obama have largely accepted these parameters. They are now, of course, selling this solution as their own which is, as the “non-paper” proves, not the reality.
Kerry suddenly “urging Russia” to accept the things Russia had demanded and which Kerry had earlier never mentioned:
Secretary of State John Kerry called on Moscow to return its troops in Crimea to their bases, pull back forces from the Ukraine border, halt incitement in eastern Ukraine and support the political reforms in Ukraine that would protect ethnic Russians, Russian speakers and others in the former Soviet Republic that Russia says it is concerned about.In a phone call with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, their second since unsuccessful face-to-face talks on Friday in London, Kerry urged Russia “to support efforts by Ukrainians across the spectrum to address power sharing and decentralization through a constitutional reform process that is broadly inclusive and protects the rights of minorities,” the State Department said .
As it looks now Obama has given up. The U.S. plot to snatch the Ukraine from Russia and to integrate it into NATO and the EU seems to have failed. Russia taking Crimea and having 93% of the voters there agree to join Russia has made the main objective of the U.S. plans, to kick the Russians out of Sevastopol and thereby out of the Middle East, impossible.
The Russian (non public) threat to also immediately take the eastern and southern provinces from the Ukraine has pushed the U.S. into agreeing to the Russian conditions mentioned above. The only alternative to that would be a military confrontation which the U.S. and Europeans are not willing to risk. Despite the anti-Russian campaign in the media a majority of U.S. people as well as EU folks are against any such confrontation. The U.S. never held the cards it needed to win this game.
Should all go well and a new Ukrainian constitution fit the Russian conditions the “west” may well be allowed to pay for the monthly bills Gazprom will keep sending to Kiev.
It will take some time to implement all of this. What dirty tricks will the neocons in Washington now try to prevent this outcome?
Moon of Alabama