In summer of the last year the name of Russia was mentioned almost in every sentence in the corridors of the European Council. The topic ‘Russia is back!’ outshined all other topics, actually even the main activities of the European Council. Definitions o

Not a victory and not a defeat – one heading was saying about the first confrontation of the sixth president of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky with President of Russia Vladimir Putin during the summit of so-called “Normandy Four’…

Not a victory and not a defeat – one heading was saying about the first confrontation of the sixth president of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky with President of Russia Vladimir Putin during the summit of so-called “Normandy Four’ (Ukraine, Germany, France and Russia) held on 9 December that was called to regulate the conflict in the eastern Ukraine after aggression of Russia against it. They came to an agreement to cease firing, exchange prisoners and expand the mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in territories occupied by Russia. That’s all.    
The continuation will be after four months, of course, if everything goes at least satisfactorily, because there are rumours that the Kremlin did not get anything from what had been agreed before negotiations (for instance, legalization of the separatist ‘militia’ in occupies territories). According to Arsen Avakov, the Minister of Interia of Ukraine, Vladislav Surkov, curator of the Kremlin for separatist regions of Ukraine almost had a breakout of hysteria just because of that.
Thus, we should duly position of the specific event. As far as it is a shame to admit that right after commemoration of thirty years of the fall of the Berlin wall and the Baltic Road – a little be earlier (by the way, Ursula von Layen, Chairman of the European Parliament remembered it when she introduced her plans right after she started her job), the objective of Ukraine for freedom is continuing and nobody knows how long it will last when situation of Kiev is invidious. As Dmitri    Toddious, Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine and Minister for the European Union (EU) and NATO integration matters wrote before the summit in Paris, the President V. Zelensky went with a strong desire to reach the Ukrainian agenda in negotiations against V. Putin – the machine that has no opposition, is not bound by the opinion of the society, despises the human life and which is frustrated by the simple fact that Ukraine exists.      
The Kremlin prepared for negotiations in a traditional way. Firing in the area of separation of the armed forces did not stop, Vyacheslav Volodin, Chairman of the State Duma mentioned that more regions might be split away from Ukraine. V. Putin reproached lack of Kiev’s flexibility in negotiations about the natural gas. The President of Russia called Zelimkhan Khangoshvili, Chechen field commander who was killed in Berlin at noon on 23 August probably by special services of Russia,  a bandit, whose extradition Moscow asked several times. Heiko Maas, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany on ZDF TV channel programme ‘Maybrit Illner’ on 12 December called all this as nonsense and an attempt to hide the crime. The official Berlin previously denied V. Putin’s words that Moscow had contacted Berlin with such a request for extradition. Maybe we should not try to find the truth here. Right before the Normandy Four summit the Kremlin tried to let one of its participants  – the Chancellor Angela Merkel ‘understand’ that Russian Special Services feel at home in Berlin, too and that she would think again, for instance, before she starts supporting Ukraine. Emmanuel Macron, President of France, did not have to be ‘warned’ after his statements about Russia as an ally of Europe…    
It might be that V. Putin went to Paris to ‘accept’ capitulation of a young president of Ukraine who set his heart on  – just think about it – to seek a meeting with an almighty ‘land collector’ of Russia. Even if he didn’t capitulate (it is likely that this happened) – that’s OK, we have a standard set: try to split other territories from Ukraine, finally stop the transit of natural gas – there are a lot of things you can think of. The President of Ukraine has a bad choice – between capitulation and war when most people in Ukraine want peace and not under shameful conditions.   
30 years ago many people were hoping that Russia would move towards the West, however it happened so that the West can feel the ‘impact’ of Moscow – if in Google search you enter the phrase ‘election hacking’ you will get 20 million links, if you enter ‘election 2016 hacking’  – 11 million links. Experts of the Internet security company Fire Eye in the USA had come to a conclusion long time ago that hackers from Sandworm and Fancy Bear, group alignment relating to the Main Intelligence Directorate of Russia (GRU) are responsible for hacking the e-mail of the President’s E. Macron party. Namely they in 2015 ‘disconnected’ the French television TV5 Monde, attacked the White House, NATO, the World Anti-Doping Agency, Bundestag, British Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Energy system of Ukraine… In Europe some routes of GRU ‘liquidators’ are already known (we talk not just about poisoning in Salisbury, the United Kingdom), even we have information about their distribution ‘hub’ in the French Alps. Moscow tried to disturb the acts of terrorism committed by it – it succeeded to exchange Vladimir Cemach, an important witness in bringing down the Boeing aircraft of Malaysian airlines on 17 July 2014 in the air of the eastern Ukraine for the hostage Ukrainians of the Kremlin not because they wanted to contribute to the tragedy that killed 298 people. Right after V. Cemach was exchanged he returned to the occupied “Donetsk People’s Republic’ and investigators cannot reach him.
The report ‘Kremlin Watch Strategy’ published by Prague Investigation Center ‘European Values’ this year not just simply formulated 20 recommendations how to fight against ‘hybrid aggression’ of the Kremlin such as initiation of the parliamentarian investigations in regards to intervention of the Kremlin to the internal policy, persistent monitoring of the Kremlin’s propaganda, more active posting of diplomats-spies, publication of information about wealth of V.Putin’s environment people, etc. Top public officers of Russia and business oligarchs who are obedient to the Kremlin enjoy luxury in European mansions bought for the money of Europeans, send their children to the best Western universities (about 2 thousand children of the Russian elite study in universities in the UK), meanwhile in the EU the Kremlin is coping with enemies and has no troubles about legal and moral ‘superstitions’. These are the realities of the hybrid war.
Garry Kasparov, who participated in the 8 Forum of Free Russia in Vilnius, reminded of the fact that dictators usually come in the face of the weakness of the West. At the beginning of the fourth decade of the last century it was not hard to stop Adolf Hitler, however nobody wanted to do so and the end was like it was. Now indulgence and passivity also strengthen positions of V.Putin’s regime. At the beginning of sovereignty of the President of Russia there was not a single Russian in the magazine Forbes rating of millionaires and now they are just behind Americans in a sense of their number. According to G. Kasparov who lives in the USA and regularly visits Europe, he can see to what extent Europe is defeated of what we are used to consider the West. The corruption operation of the elite actually goes without any problems so far, the president of Russia uses the abundant resources quite efficiently, his lobbyists, direct influence agents and the machine of propaganda is operating almost without any reproaches. This does not mean that the moment of truth will never stop to the euro-Atlantic civilization; nonetheless there is no adequate understanding so far how the regime of Kremlin can be threatening to a free world.     
Unfortunately, there are just few serious samples of attempts to stop the Kremlin and very rare cases when the goal of the Kremlin to build ‘the little Russia’ at the expense of the statehood of Ukraine, collapsed. However, Kiev cannot always be the only one against the aggressor when the West are slow to take decisions – it took 5 years of war for NATO to develop a structure meant to investigate the influence of Russian propaganda on Europeans. Anna Gapko, a deputy of the Ukrainian Rada of earlier election, has mentioned that as long as Ukraine has to prove (firstly, to the West) that it is not a buffer, ‘grey’ zone but a strategic partner, so far it will be the object of increasing aggression of the Kremlin. In the eve of the summit in Paris in answer to questions of journalists of Le Monde, Der Spiegel, Time and Gazeta Wyborcza the President V. Zelensky told that he understood that Germany and France had economic problems because of the introduced sanctions, however when we talk about human lives, economy should not dominate. According to the investigation of the sociology group ‘Rating’ if the referendum in regards to NATO was held in summer, it should be supported by 53 percent Ukrainians, 29 percent would vote against. The vector of the public opinion is for the free world; however this cannot last forever if the West will avoid the decisions.
The Kremlin would by no means give up its geopolitical plans and will use the ‘usual’ corruption, blackmail, etc. instruments. If it needs – it will annex ‘tactically’ Belarus. Alexander Lukashenka, President of Belarus, prior to going to negotiations with V. Putin in Sochi on 5 December for commemoration of the 20 anniversary of signing the Agreement of the union between Russia and Belarus (by the way, it provides for common courts, currency, tax system was only in paper so far, but not for ages…) in the Parliament told that he doesn’t want to forget everything what he had done with the nation of Belarus that the established state would be expelled or sold to somebody. According to him, this will never happen under his ruling. Why would this experienced conjectural ace say such statements if/when he feels reliable as the head of a sovereign state? Probably he was awfully worried before going to ‘the master’ in Sochi.
The fifth president of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko, who had experience of negotiations with president of Russia during the dramatic period in 2014-2015 to the question of the radio Svoboda (13 December) about existence of the renewed risk of military actions from the side of Russia, answered that V. Putin has shown several times that no disciplinary ‘red line’ exists to him at all. Thus, the risk actually exists. V. Putin’s cynical comparison of the eastern Ukraine with Srebrenica where the army of Serbian Republic killed 7,800 to 8,000 juniors and men in July 1995 and this massacre considered the biggest in Europe after the World War II demonstrates that the ‘line’ does not exist. As if Ukrainians will organize Srebrenica in Donbas if it is liberated from occupants. Ukrainians, who liberated Kramatorsk, Slavyansk and Mariupol from Russians 5 years ago, live the same number of years with millions of internal refugees side by side from the eastern Ukraine, too. What massacre we are talking about… Leader of the country affords ‘the observation’, which year after year put a veto on resolutions of the United Nations and calls Srebrenica massacre genocide. This is sociopaty; there are no other words to call it.          
The eastern side of the Baltic shall attentively wait for continuation of the Normandy Four, because what is on the way to the West? Right, the states of the eastern Baltic. 64 kilometres separate Vilnius from the ‘soft power’ Astrav nuclear power plant that is being built by the Kremlin. Attempts of Andrius Kubilius, member of the European Parliament and his colleagues, to act with patience maybe even for several decades to the benefit of democracy, for instance, in creation of the line of welfare states around Russia, starting with Ukraine, seem like a Sisyphean task.  Especially in the context of speeches of the President of France, as if salvation of Europe is possible only ‘by separating’ Russia from China and returning influence to the Old Continent.
If the goal of the Kremlin is to stop Ukraine from becoming a successful state by all means, Europeans and Balts to begin with, shall act strictly the other way round. So that successful example of Ukraine would raise uncomfortable questions to citizens of Russia – for instance, why their country still plays the post-imperial role rather than moving successfully towards the welfare states. There is no other way out.  
Arūnas Spraunius

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