Will Putin, Trump, May, Merkel and Macron be in talks on Ukraine in Minsk?

Belarus is looking forward to becoming a peacekeeping venue; but are the world leaders invited by Volodymir Zelensky ready to come to Minsk? By now, only the United Kingdom has agreed to contribute to the Ukrainian-Russian dialogue in Minsk. Why are the leaders of other countries still staying quiet?

“We welcome the president’s willingness to make progress in the settlement of the conflict in eastern Ukraine. We continue to support the Minsk peace process and the work of Germany and France in the Normandy Four format,” the UK side stated.

On July 8, Volodymyr Zelensky offered Vladimir Putin to come to Minsk and discuss the issues of Crimea and Donbas, According to him, US president Donald Trump, UK Prime Minister Theresa May, German chancellor Angela Merkel, French president Emmanuel Macron should also take part in the would-be summit.

“Need to talk? Yes, we do. Let’s talk. Let’s discuss whose Crimea is and who does not have any troops in Donbas <…> What about a venue? I think Alyaksandr Lukashenka would be happy to host us in Minsk,” the Ukrainian president said.

In 2015, the Minsk Agreements were signed in the presence of the leaders of France and Germany. In addition, the Trilateral Contact Group on resolving the conflict in Donbas hold its meetings in the Belarusian capital. Zelensky’s initiative was endorsed by the Belarusian Foreign Ministry and personally Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

“Our position remains unchanged: you cannot look at each other through the scope of a weapon. You need to sit down at the negotiating table and address numerous pending issues,” the presidential press service quoted him.

Not all the leaders may approve of the ‘Minsk option’, political scientist Ihar Tyshkevich who works at the Ukrainian Institute for the Future believes:

“Minsk is a good place for Putin and European leaders. But the question is to what extent this place is acceptable for the leaders of the UK and the USA.”

According to the political analyst, if the negotiations do take place in Minsk, it will play into the hands of the Belarusian authorities.

“The very fact of the arrival of the top politicians, key actors in the world policy in Minsk de facto debunks the claims about the international isolation of Belarus. In the run-up to the 2020 presidential elections, it matters a good deal to Lukashenka that policymakers and representatives of global players will come to Belarus,” Tyshkevich stressed.

Zelensky’s idea to invite the US and the UK will reshape the Normandy format; Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov expressed the Kremlin’s dissatisfaction over the would-be involvement of the United States. So, Moscow is in no hurry to respond to the invitation, but they promised to consider the proposal.

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