Ukraine: Daily Briefing
August 21, 2019, 5 PM Kyiv time
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense reported at 12:30 PM Kyiv time that in the last 24 hours, no Ukrainian soldiers were killed and one Ukrainian soldier was wounded in action. In the last 24 hours, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk and Donetsk sectors of the front 9 times in total.
2. CNN: Trump and Macron agree that Russia should be invited to next year’s G7 conference, senior administration official says
CNN reported, “President Donald Trump on Tuesday expressed his support for reinstating Russia into the G7, and French President Emmanuel Macron has agreed with the President that Russia should be invited to the G7 conference in 2020, according to a senior administration official.
‘I think it’s much more appropriate to have Russia in’ the group, he said during a meeting in the Oval Office with the Romanian President just days before the group of leading industrialized nations convenes for its annual summit in France. ‘If somebody would make that motion, I would certainly be disposed to think about it very favorably,’ he added.
Later on Tuesday, a senior administration official told CNN Trump and Macron agreed in a phone conversation Tuesday that they wanted to invite Russia to the G7 next year. Trump is expected to broach the topic with other world leaders this weekend at the G7.
The call was planned to generally discuss the upcoming G7 meetings in France, which begin on Saturday. It was Macron who suggested inviting Russia to the gathering next year, and Trump agreed, the source said. The US will host the G7 in 2020. […]
According to the source, some White House officials believe that this is a ploy by Macron to embarrass Trump into putting himself on the line publicly and pushing for Russia to be allowed back in, though the French and American leaders have discussed the topic in the past. France wants to normalize relations with Russia, the source said.
During the Macron-Putin meeting on Monday, Macron said a resolution of Russia’s annexation of Crimea would be the ‘magic wand’ to bring Russia back into the G7. It has been reported by other outlets that Macron planned to press Putin to accept Ukraine’s overtures for dialogue during that meeting in France on Monday.”
3. Hoffman and Soames: Stop Putin now, as Churchill would warn, or West will face the consequences
Sir Nicholas Soames, Member of UK Parliament and Daniel Hoffman wrote for Fox News, “August 23 marks the 80th anniversary of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, the infamous neutrality treaty that secretly divided Poland, the Baltic States, and Romania between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. The 1939 treaty offers lessons for any nation engaging with Russia today, especially those which were once part of the former USSR.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who served in the KGB and was director of the Russian Security Police, has defended Stalin’s decision to sign the pact. For Putin, like Stalin, regime security is paramount, even if it means fracturing Europe, compromising international institutions, and an alliance with the devil. […]
Putin also seeks to destabilize the U.S. internally, drive a wedge between the U.S. and its NATO allies, and enhance control over Russia’s regional sphere of influence, most especially Ukraine. The Kremlin is behaving more like an aggressive and dangerous rogue state than a member of the community of nations.
Putin is bent on reviving the ethos of the Soviet evil empire. Just as containment and deterrence effectively countered the Soviet Union during the Cold War, they are similarly applicable today against Putin, the KGB operative in the Kremlin.
Sir Winston Churchill, who united his country and the West in common cause against dictators, would undoubtedly have been ringing alarm bells in Trafalgar Square over Russia’s multifaceted aggression, especially against Ukraine.
Never hesitant to tell the unpopular truth, it was Churchill who presciently and forcefully argued against the appeasement of Nazi Germany. Speaking of the neutral nations that refused to join the fight against Hitler, Churchill said, ‘Each one hopes that if he feeds the crocodile enough, the crocodile will eat him last. All of them hope that the storm will pass before their time comes to be devoured. But … the storm will not pass. It will rage and it will roar, every more loudly, ever more widely.’
For Putin, democracy is an existential threat, especially in the former Soviet Union, whose collapse Putin once called the ‘greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century.’ Nothing threatens Putin’s regime security more than Ukraine, a democratic neighbor with a bright economic future and sizeable Russian-speaking population. Worse for Putin, Ukraine is an aspiring member of the EU, with which it signed a free trade agreement in 2016, and NATO, which is assisting Ukraine with its cyber defense. […]
Long-term, his objective is the destruction of Ukraine as a state. Putin doesn’t want a successful democracy next door serving as a beacon of hope and inspiration for his own domestic opponents who are denied basic civil liberties, including freedom of expression and assembly. […]
The West is running out of time to draw and enforce a red line, with the intelligence, military, diplomatic, and economic measures that would enable Ukraine to deter Russian aggression.
The U.S. and its allies should mount a full-court press in the public square, including inside Russia, to expose Putin’s nefarious Ukraine policy, which so negatively impacts the economies of Russia and the region. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s planned White House visit is a propitious opportunity for the U.S. and Ukraine to discuss bilateral cooperation at the highest level.
Churchill would have recognized Ukraine as being on the front lines against Russian espionage and military, cyber and economic attacks. If the U.S. fails to follow his example, and does not lead a coalition against the Russian crocodile now, we will only have ourselves to blame when Putin comes for us next.”
4. Portnikov: Putin will not change his conditions
Ukrainian journalist, commentator and writer Vitaly Portnikov wrote for espreso.tvabout the August 19 meeting between French President Emmanuel Macron and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Portnikov wrote, “During the meeting of the presidents of France and Russia, Vladimir Putin once again repeated the conditions under which a meeting of the leaders of the “Normandy Format” countries can take place.
This is the full implementation of decisions, which will give autonomy to the occupied territories of the Donbas and an amnesty for the ‘leaders’ of the militants. If we simplify these conditions of the Russian president, we will see that Putin wants to maintain complete control over the Donbas (and possibly the expansion of the territories under his control – the decision to simplify the issuance of Russian passports is not a coincidence). Yes, Donbas will nominally be considered
Ukrainian territory but will in reality be a state within a state. Putin wants to avoid a situation, whereby in the event of a resolution of the conflict, the territory of the Donbas will return to Kyiv’s control. But he also needs the marionette “politicians” of the occupied region to take part in governing Ukraine – this is why he needs amnesty.
But Putin’s conditions – are not conditions that will end the war. These are simply the conditions under which he will agree to meet in the “Normandy Format.” And it’s already clear that these conditions will not changes, that the Western participants in the Normandy Format will not put pressure on Putin, but on Ukrainian President Volodymry Zelenskyy. Because if both Zelenskyy and Macron need a meeting of the “Normandy Format” in order to show their political capability, then let the Ukrainian and French presidents agree among themselves. Putin can wait.
It’s no accident that the experienced Angela Merkel is not taking part in this muddle of hope, because she clearly understands that it is doomed to failure. Emmanuel Macron is acting completely differently, but even he has begun to speak about a possible meeting of the “Normandy Format” more carefully, than in the recent past. It’s possible that the meeting with Putin showed the French President the futility of his efforts to change the position of the Russian President.
But there remains one colleague, whose position Macron might be able to change – the Ukrainian president. The simple fact that Macron spoke about the change in government in Ukraine as some ‘new factor’ in ending the conflict – as if Ukraine were not a victim but a belligerent in the war and as if the end of the war depended on the position of the Ukrainian president and not the Russian president – speaks about the manipulative tactics of the French president and his readiness to use Zelenskyy’s inexperience for his, Macron’s, own political goals. And in the hallways of Bregancon, French diplomats were telling journalists that Zelenskyy has made some new – for now unknown to anyone – propositions, with which Putin may agree. And this proves that the manipulations of the Kremlin’s ‘well-wishers’ in the West do not know any ‘red lines.’
Because the only proposition that Zelenskyy may make Putin to which the Russian president will agree – is the unconditional political and military capitulation of Ukraine to the enemy.”
The article is available in the original Ukrainian here