Russian President’s Deputy Chief of Staff Dmytro Kozak, who is currently in charge of Ukraine-related issues in the Kremlin, has embarked on another round of subtle political play.

His decision to suspend negotiations on Donbas at the level of advisers to the Heads of the Normandy format states was perceived by most analysts and politicians as an attempt to strengthen their positions within the negotiation process of the Normandy Quartet.

For example, the Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine Andriy Yermak directly wrote that as soon as Ukraine took a “proactive and tougher position,” Russian representatives began to declare their unwillingness to participate in certain forms of work. And this is despite the fact that, despite the difficulties, some successes have been achieved recently, and the “truce in Donbas” is another confirmation of that.

Some informed sources see Kozak’s démarche as an attempt to impose his scenario on Ukraine. According to him, the Russian-occupied territories of Donbas must be returned back to Ukraine together with the occupation administration preserved on them and the special status of the so-called “DNR” and “LNR.”

Such a plan is unacceptable to many conscious Ukrainians, in part because Kozak simply used his own developments of Moldova in 2003, when he proposed a “plan to resolve the Transnistrian conflict.” Then, according to the proposals, Moldova was to become an “asymmetric federation,” and the so-called Transnistrian Republic of Moldova and Gagauzia were to be given the status of “junior entities” with the possibility of blocking Chisinau’s bills. Moscow has promised to force Tiraspol to have a compromise, while Moldova has had to agree with the presence of Russian troops in Transnistria for 20 years.

For a number of reasons, Chisinau decided not to agree with this plan, and the European Court of Human Rights recognised the Transnistrian government as a puppet of the Kremlin and called Russia responsible for the crimes committed in Transnistria. Meanwhile, Moscow has frozen talks on Transnistria’s status for almost a decade and a half, with all the “tasty” consequences: human rights abuses, rising poverty and military instability. After all, in fact, the conflict in Moldova can be “thawed” at any time.

The current president of Moldova, Igor Dodon, who is known for his pro-Russian stance, has recently been trying to revive talks with Tiraspol on the “Kozak’s plan,” but these attempts clearly show a desire to secure support in the upcoming presidential election. At the same time, even the fact that in the conditions of an “asymmetric federation” Moldova’s participation in all international projects will be put an end to, finally, as well as to its independence, is neglected. If the pro-Russian Transnistrian region returns to Moldova with expanded powers, it will dictate to Chisinau its conditions, which will be prompted by Moscow.

According to some experts, in both Moldova and Ukraine, Kozak is driven not by a desire to have peace again, but only by trying to maintain conflict and devastation for as long as possible in order to keep the former Soviet republics in the Kremlin’s sphere of direct influence. And, for 17 years, everyone has been able to see that  “Kozak’s plan” did not yield any positive results in Moldova, so the attempt to embody his fatigue in one form or another in Ukraine on the example of Donbas is simply doomed to failure.

Bohdan Marusyak

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