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Russia’s global information war on discrediting Ukraine finds supporters in European capitals

In view of foreign media it is clear that the Europeans wish good to Ukraine, but lose sight of important circumstances. The statement of the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky about consent to the so-called "Steinmeier Formula" attracted attention and stirred up a wave of comments and explanations. More precisely, even two waves. One of exclamation marks: "Ukraine agreed...", "Zelensky unlocked...", "A step towards peace in the Donbas...". And almost immediately the second - with question marks "What is the "Steinmeier Formula"?", "First elections, then disarmament - or vice versa?". In particular, Germany, Turkey, Lithuania, Poland, the Netherlands and Bulgaria responded in this way. Foreign journalists have covered in detail the wave of protests in Ukraine against the "Steinmeier Formula" under the slogan «No surrender!».

Instead, Western politicians perceived the "Steinmeier Formula" as a solution that will lead to peace and strengthen security in Europe, on the contrary, reacted approvingly to the intention of Zelensky to implement this "Formula". Minister of Foreign Affairs, Heiko Maas was one of the first to congratulate Zelensky on his decision: "I am pleased that the constructive atmosphere in the Trilateral Contact Group in Minsk has led to the expected progress. This opens the door to the summit of the Normandy Four and other stages of implementation of the «Minsk agreements».

"France welcomes the achievements that have been achieved during the previous weeks by intensive negotiations in the so-called "Normandy format" between France, Germany, Ukraine and Russia. Now conditions have been created for the meeting in Paris of heads of state and government in the "Normandy format", the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. "The British Foreign Office supported the signing of the "Steinmeier Formula" by Ukraine and Russia as part of the settlement of the conflict in the Donbas," the British Foreign Office said on its website. Now Russia must play its role to end the conflict, immediately ceasing to support the separatists and fulfilling its obligations under the Minsk agreements," British Minister Christopher Pincher added, as always, in a principled style. The European Union positively assessed the agreements that were reached on October 1 in Minsk within the framework of the Trilateral Contact Group, and "express hope for a long-term and peaceful solution to the conflict in the East of Ukraine," the representative of the European External Action Service, Maya Kosjancic said.

 A major diplomatic breakthroughNegotiations to end the five-year conflict in Eastern Ukraine have led to the first major breakthrough since the 2015 peace agreement, which paved the way for an international summit to make progress, Bloomberg writes. "The Kremlin opposes its neighbor's plans for Western integration," and this, in Bloomberg's definition, "caused tension between the two former allies back in 2013." The agreement on the summit between Moscow and Kyiv is an important and significant step forward to end the bloody conflict in the Donbas, writes the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano. The government of Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed that it is ready to go forward in peace negotiations. The recent election of Zelensky undoubtedly gave a new impetus to the peace negotiations, the author believes.[1]

…or unacceptable mistake. "Ukraine conflict: Anger as Zelensky agrees vote deal in east," BBC correspondent called his article. Hundreds of Ukrainians protested after President, Volodymyr Zelensky said he supported an agreement that would bring elections to territory controlled by Russian separatists... Nationalists gathered in Kyiv with banners "No surrender." President Zelensky made a "peace in the East of Ukraine" with its promise No. 1 in the election. And now he's trying to do it. Last month there was a significant prisoner exchange with Russia, and now "the former comedian has publicly agreed to the "Steinmeier Formula"," the correspondent writes. The author, who for some reason thinks that only "nationalists" disagree, and also clearly misinterprets the "Steinmeier Formula", at the same time, in fact, shares the concern of Ukrainians: «The most sensitive aspect of the «Steinmeier Formula» is that it allows local elections to take place in the occupied parts of Ukraine before Russian-backed forces have withdrawn from the occupied territory in the Dondas, and Kyiv has control of its state border.  Though elections in Donetsk and Luhansk would be monitored by observers from the OSCE and would in theory be under Ukrainian law, it's hard to see how is this really possible». Moreover, there has already been a «negative selection»: «Most people with strongly pro-Ukrainian views have long ago left the occupied areas for their own safety. So it seems almost inevitable that the elections would consolidate the position of the Russia-aligned leaders who are currently in place, granting them the recognition Moscow has long craved».

Therefore, it is not difficult to understand why critics of President Zelensky see this as a great concession, if not a capitulation», the columnist concludes. Hundreds of Ukrainians protested... after the President of Ukraine confirmed that Ukraine has adopted the "Steinmeier Formula" to resolve the conflict in the East, and the protests will not stop, they may be transferred to the Parliament, the Moldovan edition "" notes.

Thus, the "Steinmeier Formula" and all that is now associated with it, caused a wave of interest to the Ukrainian events, to which much attention is drawn again. Therefore, we still have time to make this attention constructive and explain to the Europeans all the concerns about the possible negative consequences of negotiations with those who started this war and are not going to stop it until they have realized their goal - to return Ukraine to the Russian Empire. We have time to clarify that the issue of disarmament of militants, control over the Ukrainian-Russian border, participation in elections of Ukrainian parties and Ukrainian media, as well as the content of legislation on the "special status" of territories uncontrolled by the Ukrainian government still have to be carefully written out. No magic "formula" will solve anything without this."Steinmeier Formula" itself is a tool. And any tool -a knife, a lighter, or a car - is good or bad, depending on which hands it falls into.[2]

Meanwhile, the German Foreign Office is increasingly leaning towards Russia in this Russian-Ukrainian war. It is known that on September 24, 2019 the German edition "Bild" published a material in which it is claimed that Germany issue visas in the passports issued by Russia to inhabitants of temporarily occupied areas of Donetsk and Lugansk areas, and doesn't make a difference between passports of the Russian Federation and these "documents". According to the data presented in the publication, since April, the owners of Russian passports have been issued almost 100 thousand German visas, however, as noted by the publication, it is unclear how many of them are put in the "LPR and DPR passports". At the same time, the German Foreign Office  denied the information given in the article in "Bild"  about the issuance of visas to holders of "LPR and DPR passports". However, on October 10, the German Foreign Office ordered all German consulates not to recognize Russian passports issued to Ukrainians in the occupied Donbas. This was announced on Twitter by the Ambassador of Ukraine to Germany, Andriy Melnyk. "Betrayal is canceled: the leadership of the German Foreign Office personally informed me about the instruction to all German consulates NOT TO RECOGNIZE Russian passports issued to Ukrainians in the occupied Donbas," he said.[3]

But, nevertheless, the German Foreign Office is against the German Bundestag to recognize the Holodomor as a genocide of the Ukrainian people. According to "European truth", this was in an interview with the Ukrainian service of "Deutsche Welle" the Deputy from the ruling Christian Democratic Union, Arnold Vaatz said, who spoke about the meeting of the Petitions Committee. A Committee of the German Bundestag on Monday began considering the recognition of the Holodomor as a genocide of the Ukrainian people. At the end of May, a petition with a corresponding appeal to the German Parliament gained the necessary minimum of 50 thousand votes for its consideration. "The Foreign Office wants the petition to be rejected with the justification that the concept of genocide was not defined until 1951. In my opinion, this argument is very technocratic. The same applies to another argument - that, in addition to Ukrainians, this artificially arranged famine had other victims, in particular, in Russia, in the Caucasus. This argument, in my opinion, is also more similar to an excuse," the German MP said.

He called such an argument dangerous because it could lead to demands by the Nazis not to recognize Hitler's genocide, which also led to the definition of this concept. "This decision of the Foreign Office is wrong also because it means to kneel before Russia. Obviously, no one wants to create new topics for confrontation with Russia," the parliamentarian added. Vaatz stressed that due to the Foreign Office's assessment, it can be expected that the Petitions Committee will reject the petition. "I think it's wrong. Colleagues who feel the same way are likely to apply to vote for this petition in the Bundestag as a separate item. But, probably, the majority for the adoption of this petition in the Bundestag will not be found," he added.[4]

Consequently, Russian propaganda channels continue to demonstrate the success of their work on the territory of Western countries, which are already tired of the Russian-Ukrainian war and wish it an early solution. The rhetoric of Europe's power elite is increasingly not in favor of Ukraine. Unfortunately, this is also the fault of Ukraine, since we have not yet introduced an effective mechanism to counteract Russian propaganda.


[2] Ibid.