Coupled with the outcome of the G7 summit (no triggers for sanctions and organizers not ruling out Russia could re-join G8) and Obama’s remarks (I think it is possible for us to try to rebuild some of the trust that has been shattered, but that it will take "quite some time:.) I see the following as signs a serious effort by leaders of Western countries, Ukraine, and Russia to arrive at some basic terms of an agreement on how to resolve the crisis during the D-Day commemorations:
- Mr. Obama and Mr. Putin will both dine with Hollande separately on Thursday. No meetings are scheduled, but Obama aides did not rule out an unscripted conversation.
- In an interview to be aired on Wednesday Putin says that he hopes the crisis is not the start of “a new stage in the Cold War.” No meeting is scheduled between the US and Russian presidents, but it’s his choice. I am ready for dialogue,” Putin said.
- Obama said on Tuesday if he met Putin on D-Day, he would tell him to exert his influence to “get the separatist elements [in eastern Ukraine] to stand down” and recognize Poroshenko.
- Lavrov to meet Kerry after the latter spoke at lengths with Poroshenko on Tuesday night and again on Wednesday morning in Poland.
- Putin to hold separate meetings with Hollande, and Cameron (the latter himself requested the meeting) on 06.05.14 as well as Merkel.
- French officials are hoping the meetings will also include Poroshenko. Putin did not withdraw after Poroshenko was invited, a sign some western diplomats hope showed Mr Putin may be ready to strike a deal.
- German official: "There will be talks held on the sidelines that may be rather helpful in finding a political solution.”
(Sources: WSJ, Reuters, FT, NYT, 06.01.14-06.04.14).
Here is outline of the deal that I think both Ukraine and Russia could live with
· Reaffirmation of Ukraine’s non-bloc status as formulated in its declaration of independence, possibly with great powers acting as guarantors of Ukraine’s neutrality and territorial integrity.
· An arrangement, which would allow Ukraine to sign a free trade agreement with EU that would neither damage Ukraine’s trade with Russia nor preclude some sort of an economic association with Russia or Russian-led organization (so not mutually exclusive), but that would prevent Ukraine from re-exporting Russian commodities and goods to EU and vice versa.
· Decentralization, including elections of governors and rights of regions to sign economic, cultural and social cooperation agreements with regions of other countries.
· Legal guarantees of rights of all national minorities, commensurate with European Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages and EU’s best practices in guaranteeing right of minorities and including the right to be educated in their languages and use these languages in their interaction with authorities.
· Full amnesty followed by disarmament of ‘self-defense’ and other unauthorized armed formations with some of them possibly integrated into Ukraine’s National Guard.