'EU to put pressure on Kiev to be more flexible as winter approaches'
RT:How significant was this eye-to-eye meeting in your view?
Alexander Nekrassov: I think it is always very important when world leaders meet each other face-to-face and have a confidential meeting one-on-one. It beats everything else, all these huge conferences, etc. It’s a start, obviously nobody was expecting some huge breakthroughs there, but judging by the way President Poroshenko rushed off to the Ukrainian embassy after the meeting with President Putin and did not even meet with journalists, it seems that he had something to say to his Western backers and I suspect that it was something very important.
RT:President Poroshenko said the initiative of a peace plan was supported by everyone. Does that mean Kiev is ready for a ceasefire?
AN: It is a difficult question, isn’t it? On the one hand, Kiev has always said that it wants some sort of a peace deal done in the east, on other hand, the government troops are shelling both Lugansk and Donetsk and is basically committing all those terrible atrocities. So it is a difficult sort of balance to reach here. I think as winter approaches the EU will be putting more pressure on Kiev to be more flexible because one thing that Europe doesn’t want is problems with gas deliveries, and as you probably know Kiev has already returned the money that Russia is paying it for the transit of gas to Europe. So the signs are not good for Europe and they are obviously nervous about that.
RT:Russia and Ukraine have agreed on re-opening discussions on the gas issue. What do you think was said to make both sides willing to come back to it?
AN: Russia can’t really operate freely as Ukraine has submitted its lawsuit against Russia to the Arbitration Court, and that is what basically ties Russian hands because it cannot even negotiate the price rate because it is a legal matter now. The problem is that Kiev really needs to be more flexible and stop all this wrangling and games with lawsuits. It is really time for the government in Kiev to understand one thing, it was all great posturing for a while after they seized power and got the new president elected and [were] trying to score political points, but now the whole thing comes to the nitty-gritty of direct discussions and the gas flow is crucial to Ukraine and to Europe as well. If they continue these games of saying one thing in public and doing another thing behind the scenes, I do not think Russia will be able to do anything.
RT:Russia's Foreign minister said humanitarian aid to East Ukraine was discussed in Minsk. Kiev seemed to agree that more help is necessary. Can we expect that the second convoy will not face obstacles from Kiev?
AN: I will be very surprised if there would be any obstacles again because I find that government in Kiev cannot resist this sort of urge to play some sort of political card and of course it is looking over its shoulder to see what the EU and especially Washington are doing and saying about it. Unfortunately, the coverage of this humanitarian aid in the Western media and British media as well was appalling, and to pretend that this humanitarian aid was some sort of attempt to invade Ukraine was absolutely preposterous. I can see the response of people here [in London], including my twitter blog with quite a substantial following, and I can see that they were appalled by that sort of approach. When we see all this footage about people suffering there and at the same time we are hearing those officials in the West saying that’s a kind of plan to invade Ukraine. Also what I find remarkable is that at the same time we see the so-called humanitarian aid in Iraq where Western countries, primarily America, do whatever they want – replacing a prime minister along the way to bombing targets – and nothing is said. Here is a clear cut humanitarian program and yet we see these campaigns of slander. I do not think we will see a smooth entry into Ukraine of another aid convoy; unfortunately, politics will be there as well.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.