This week Kurt Volker, the US special representative for Ukraine has been giving interviews. For a thorough insight into Volker’s interview assessment of the situation, please visit the DW website.
Here’s a summary of what he said.
The United States is considering sending more lethal weaponry to Ukraine. This due to mounting concerns that Russia may be stepping up its (military) activity in the Sea of Azov. Because of this, the US may send weapons to aid Ukraine’s navy and air defences.
My note on the coastal situation.
Russia has full control of the 409km of Ukraine’s eastern border – the area between the orange lines. With the recent opening of the illegal Kerch bridge to Crimea (red line), Russia’s begun harassing and delaying Ukrainian merchant ships in the Sea of Azov. This is a form of military blockade of several Ukrainian ports located along Ukraine’s southern coastline. The below video gives a good summary of this blockade and its growing impact on Ukrainian ports.
Kurt Volker still blames Russia for fueling the conflict. As reported on before, he reiterated Washington and Moscow still have serious differences over a possible United Nations peacekeeping force that could be deployed to help bring an end to the fighting in the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
Me – Putin wants a small force escorting the OSCE around and possibly located on the front line. In contrast, US, Germany, France and Ukraine want a large UN force, who will gradually take full control of the whole conflict area and importantly the 409km of Ukraine’s border currently controlled by Russia. Naturally Putin doesn’t want to loose control of Ukraine’s border.
Volker thought Putin was unwilling to negotiate much until after Ukraine’s presidential elections in March 2019. Volker said he’s reached out to his Russian counterpart, Vladislav Surkov, since their last meeting in Dubai in January, but has received no response.
Back in January, Surkov had shown interest in the idea of a phased deployment of peacekeepers. But since then, the Russians “have backed away and have some objections.”
Me – So with 2018 starting to edge out of sight, frustratingly there’s no political progress on ending the conflict. But we keep the faith and soldier on.
Sept 12th – The European Union extended their current sanctions.
Statement – “The Council has prolonged the restrictive measures over actions undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine for a further six months, until 15 March 2019. The measures consist of asset freezes and travel restrictions. They currently apply to 155 persons and 44 entities.
EU website page for this statement.
The persons include Russian military and individuals involved or associated with Russia’s occupation and control over eastern Ukraine and Crimea.
There’s a full list here via the EU website.
Sept 12th – The US condemned the Russia-backed Sham Elections in Ukraine.
The United States remains fully committed to diplomatic efforts to resolve the Russia-instigated conflict in eastern Ukraine. U.S. support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity remains unwavering.”
Kurt Volker has said the elections would be “illegitimate and violate the logic of the Minsk process.” These so-called elections are planned for Nov 11th.
Link to Dept State website.