Question: I hear German Chancellor Angela Merkel say “there is a glimmer of hope”, and yet you say that Putin won. Why?
A.I.: Because he really got almost everything he wanted. The only positive result of this so-called agreement is the potential cease-fire. But even this cease-fire is postponed for almost three days, and we don’t know yet what could happen in these almost three days, especially with nearly 8 thousand Ukrainian military surrounded near Debaltsevo. These Ukrainian troops can be used as hostages, as a trump card in Mr. Putin’s game.
In all other areas he got almost everything. He did not give up Russian control of the border to the Ukrainian government: this has been postponed until the end of 2015 under very peculiar conditions that Ukraine should introduce changes into its Constitution (the so-called constitutional reform) and de facto to recognize regimes in these two separatist republics. All these so-called people’s militia, courts, the prosecutor’s office, all of them will be appointed by these locals, not by Kiev. And this agreement does not cover those hostages or POW, who have been kidnapped by Russia and are kept on the Russian territory, including Nadia Savchenko.
So, if we look into each of these decisions it is quite remarkable how much Mr. Putin got. He got even more than in Transnistria, because Transnistria has to finance itself using its own resources or with the help of Russia. But in this case Kiev is forced to finance these separatists.
Question: Isn’t there incentive, though, for Vladimir Putin to agree and adhere to this cease-fire? And, as you say, yes, we have to wait three days or 70 hours before it actually kicks in. Because the US is saying just now that it’s prepared to consider rolling back sanctions on Russia if these agreements are fully implemented.
A.I.: No, there is definitely no sign of that because all the obligations have been taken by Ukraine: there is more than 20 points of different obligations. Russia did not take a single obligation. Russia is not recognized as an aggressor. Russia is not forced to withdraw its troops from the Ukrainian territory. Russia – or, Mr. Putin, actually, personally – broke almost complete isolation that had been growing around him since the Brisbane G20 Summit. Now leaders of democratic countries are coming to Moscow or to Minsk and shaking hands with him and signing joint declarations. So, it’s quite a substantial victory for him. Frankly speaking, it’s not only Ukraine that is obliged to do something. Now France and Germany are joining Ukraine in fulfilling obligations that they have given to Mr.Putin. Mr. Putin, however, has not a single obligation either to Ukraine or to Europe.
Question: now, if you were still in that advisory capacity with Mr. Putin…
A.I.: Fortunately, not.
Question: Ah, yes I say that, exactly… very loosely… He is pouring 50 tanks, 40 missile systems and 40 armored vehicles now crossing into Eastern Ukraine from Russia overnight. What do you read into it if you can still get into his mind?
A.I.: Actually, Mr. Putin himself expressed very clearly what he is going to do in the next 48 to 72 hours to all this – probably up to 8 thousand – of Ukrainian military personnel near Debaltsevo. He clearly said that all these military should give up their arms, otherwise… he is going to do something with them… Probably, all this military equipment is going to be used against those Ukrainians near Debaltsevo.