Kyiv does not lay any hopes on the talks in Minsk.
Roman Bezsmertnyi, a former Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine to Belarus (2010-2011), Maidan's supervisor during the Orange Revolution, deputy PM in Yuliya Timoshenko's government and chairman of the Third Ukrainian Republic party, said it to Radio Svaboda.
– What role will Aliaksandr Lukashenka have during the meeting scheduled for August 26 in Minsk? Some politologists say it's Lukashenka's personal triumph. Do you agree with them?
– Tell the politologists, who say it's Lukashenka's triumph, that it is only the merit of Minsk, which is situated close to Kyiv and the presidents use it for their meeting. The Ukrainian president won't go to Russia, the territory of the hostile state. Putin will not go to Kyiv, because people will kill him and his aides once they arrive in Kyiv. That is the reason why the meeting is held in Minsk. The role of Lukashenka in the process is a role of a background actor who seized power in Belarus by chance. If we need to thank anyone, it should be the European Union and the United States, which do their best to bring Putin and his Moscow's camarilla to their senses.
– What can we expect from the meeting?
– We can say right now that the Ukrainian side does not lay hopes on the meeting. We expect a very modest result. The president of Ukraine does all he can to find peaceful ways to freeze the Russian aggression. He takes part in the talks, though it weakens his rating, though Ukrainian society clearly understands now that Putin and his camarilla are enemies of Ukraine and that it seems hardly possible to find a peaceful way to slow down Moscow's dictatorial and imperial appetite. But the president does his best to find peaceful ways.
– Andrei Sannikov thinks the formal meeting with the aggressor is the recognition of aggression by Petro Poroshenko. He says a possible result of the meeting can be behind-the-scene arrangements on the federalisation of Ukraine. What can you say about it?
– It's true that the meeting harms the president. Mr Sannikov is absolutely right here. The meeting will harm him in the eyes of the Ukrainians. Everyone in Ukraine understands there are no quick ways to solve the problem. Tensions in eastern Ukraine are growing. The war is becoming more and more brutal. So, some Ukrainian specialists view the attempts to persuade Putin as time wasting. The matter is not the Russian-Ukrainian war. The matter is Putin's war against the entire democratic world. It's a mistake to think Putin will stop after occupying Ukraine or a part of Ukraine. We already heard about the “Klaipeda People's Republic” and military exercises on the Baltic shore. It's clear that Putin seeks the geopolitical hegemony. It's self-delusion to say Ukraine is a small coin in the game. Talks on federalisation or confederation sound as a proposal to destroy the country for most Ukrainians. Of course, Poroshenko will not agree on it.
– What about Belarus? Does Putin already regard it as his territory? Should we expect little green men?
– No one regards Belarus as an independent state and Lukashenka as a president anymore. He is a sitz-chairman of a part of the Russian Federation. Sorry, but I cannot find other words. For me, there has been no such country as Belarus for several years, though I love and respect the people of Belarus. Lukashenka's actions destroyed the state by undermining its humanitarian mechanisms and then economic ones. Having taken the presidential post illegally, he completed the process of destroying the Belarusian state.
– Why do the Ukrainian authorities react to the aggression so mildly? There's evidence that Russian soldiers fight in the east of Ukraine.
– I'd also like to ask the Ukrainian president about it. Why have not they imposed martial law so far? Why have not they clearly defined the enemy? The president and his aides apparently think some hopes to end the conflict still exist. I think Ukraine is long ago at war with the Russian Federation. Russia acts as an aggressor. Russia's active army units are involved in the occupation of Ukraine's territory. I have enough facts to say so.