Marius Laurinavičius
Photo: DELFI

The Lithuanian expert calls for Ukraine.

Formula Steinmeier and the decision to agree on the special status of Donbass with the Kremlin can be disadvantageous to Ukraine. However, Western politicians want to close the question of Donbass quickly. In an interview with the Apostrophe said a senior analyst at the Vilnius Institute of policy analysis Marius laurinavičius.

– What is the attitude of the Baltic States and Europe generally to the formula Steinmeier?

– In different ways. In Western Europe it is treated as a possible solution to this, as they say, “conflict.” Although it should not be called conflict, and war. And in Lithuania, and perhaps Poland, the Baltic countries, at least some analysts and companies believe that it is not “formula Steinmeier,” and “the formula of Putin.” I believe that this is an attempt of Russia through Germany to solve the issue on their own terms.

– Why Germany is interested in resolving the issue in this way?

– There are many countries who are interested in solving this “problem” as they again called, by any means. They are interested to be over and they could start a new page of relations with the criminal regime, as I call it.

– Does Ukraine have the opportunity to abandon the “formula Steinmeier” or should we accept the scenario which is happening?

– It is up to you. We in Lithuania also provide you with assistance, including military. We can advise something, if we are asked. We can Express their opinion.

Most in Lithuania agree that if this “formula” is not a surrender, it is the first step on the path to surrender. All, of course, depends on how it will be implemented. We understand that there are different opinions in Ukraine itself, but if you decide to stop the war in this way, we have to accept it. We can’t interfere in the internal Affairs of Ukraine, or to reproach her.

– What would you advise Ukrainian government?

I’m looking at “formula Steinmeier” not only as a surrender, but as a threat to the future of Ukraine. So I would advise not to accept those terms.

– What’s the alternative?

– I think in this case it is better even the war with all the consequences. Because it’s not just a peace agreement on the terms of Russia. In Moscow build the project’s future, what they wanted from the beginning. They wanted to give the Donbass Ukraine, but on a very simple formula: in order for Donbass Ukraine were paid, and all the influence there was a Russian. Here it brings to life “formula Steinmeier”.

– Where to find support to Ukraine in the event of full-scale war?

– I think that in the case of full-scale war, no one would send their troops, but support for Ukraine has significantly grown in comparison with today. And military support too. The West is concerned, that it was all over, but they had no interest in escalating the conflict, nor Russia defeated in Ukraine.

– Let’s imagine that Ukraine has taken “formula Steinmeier”. What will be the consequences?

– There are people, including the President of Ukraine, which said that no red lines do not cross, all will be met. But then it’s not “formula Steinmeier” is the same as the Minsk agreement, which Russia and Ukraine are just read differently. Of course, I’m in this case on the side of Ukraine. But the Minsk agreements is about border control, and about other important things. A “formula Steinmeier” rejects all and says only two things: the special status of Donbass, that is, some form of autonomy, and elections. This is the most dangerous in this formula.

– I agree with you. After all, we understand that the militants and Russian troops are not going anywhere, and former criminals will be legitimized as deputies, officials said. How dangerous is it, and what are the prospects, if it still happens?

– This is an opportunity not only to gain influence in the Donbass, but also to destabilize Ukraine even more. The people who should be considered criminals or terrorists are representatives of the authorities. And authorities not only in this region, which is now the “black hole”, but in the Ukrainian Parliament. This is a big risks for the country. And most importantly – the prospects of integration with the European Union and NATO, too, become vague, because through these people, Russia has the ability to prevent it.

Zelensky said that Ukraine will agree on the terms of the special status of Donbass with Russia. How do you evaluate it?

– Probably, this is the second step to surrender. The first is to accept “formula Steinmeier”. We know what the conditions of Russia: a complete capitulation of Ukraine, the ability to get all the levers that will allow Ukraine to continue to move towards the EU and NATO and will be able to destabilize Ukraine, as some say, to destroy the Ukrainian state as such.

– Western world so grumble to Russia because of the “Nord stream-2”? They are so important to Russian gas?

– No, not only. There is an economic interest. I think in the West do not understand, with whom we have economic relations. I always ask my colleagues: do you dare to publicly say that we must maintain economic relations with the mafia? Because what we have now in the Kremlin – mafia. A misunderstanding, a big influence on policy. Also, a large number of politicians in the West just corrupted by the Kremlin.

– How do you assess the “Nord stream-2”? This is another way to manipulate Europe?

– I agree that this is a threat for Ukraine and the geopolitical project of Russia. But note another thing, when talking with the Germans, that it is a threat not only to Ukraine but also to Germany first. Because through such projects and corrupts the elite. “Nord stream-1” already is a bunch of former agents of the Stasi (the German equivalent of the KGB, working in Eastern Germany during the Soviet era – “Apostrophe”), any crime and Russian intelligence services. In the same tumor and turn “Northern stream-2”.

– It will complete? Because Denmark has resisted, and has been postponed completion.

– I think so. We must bear in mind several points. On the one hand, this interest is not only geopolitical, but also the mafia the interest of Russia. And on the other some European countries there is no political will to resist that.

– There is this idea that “Nord stream-2” is just a way to circumvent Ukraine and the equipment for the transit of gas through Ukraine will be dismantled, and it will be easy to occupy, without disturbing their interests.

– Talking about it for a long time. This is one of the possible scenarios and this drop does not.

– Why Europe does not want to buy us gas instead of Russian? Trump even during the first meeting with Putin in Helsinki has threatened to destroy Russian monopoly, and the percentage of gas from the US to Europe is low.

Who wants to buy? Lithuania even there is an agreement with America about it. Many countries are beginning to think about it.

American gas can become a way to escape from the Kremlin’s influence – is primarily for the Baltic countries and Ukraine?

– It can help. This is not the only way. Lithuania has already solved this problem: we can buy and American gas, and Norwegian. Even now buying Russian gas. I am personally against this, because we Finance the war, which goes not only against Ukraine, but against the whole of Europe. But if we ignore the fact that we pay the money in Russia, and they are waging war against us, it doesn’t matter.

– Vladimir Putin said recently that Russian propagandists to denigrate the people of Ukraine. Where this is going? This is an attempt to establish relations?

– No more friendly relations than it is now, neither Ukraine, nor Europe, nor the West of this criminal Putin regime will never happen. It is simply impossible.

– Which in this case Ukraine has prospects for integration with Europe?

It depends on Ukraine. On how its citizens want. Because it is a painful process. Integration into the EU and NATO is nothing more than reform. The question is how quickly you will be able to hold them. I am often asked whether it is the geopolitical question of whether Europe would or would not want to accept Ukraine. Of course, this is important. But if Ukraine shows that it is a European country which has carried out the necessary reforms, the EU will not remain other way how to accept Ukraine into their club.

– The Baltic States passed a similar way. Much the way of Ukraine is different from that which took place in Lithuania or Estonia?

– In principle, no. For Ukraine it will be more difficult for two reasons. First we started with best positions because we didn’t have such corruption and oligarchization, which, unfortunately, happened in Ukraine. And, second, Ukraine is just much more than all Baltic countries combined. In this case, and reforms are complicated.

– What to do first and how?

I won’t be original: in the first place to fight corruption and oligarchization.

– Why the Baltic States have turned out better and faster, and Ukraine trying for 30 years – and still can. What are we doing wrong?

I think we just went the other way. We immediately realized that our goal is membership in the European Union and NATO, and immediately after independence, began to work in this direction. In 1990 we declared independence, and was adopted in the EU only in 2004. It took us 14 years of great, sometimes even painful reforms and a lot of work. Ukraine after the Declaration of independence had not chosen the path to EU and NATO. Thought can choose a “third way”. I think this is a very significant factor. I think if you just took the path of reforms necessary for European integration, you also would have been a different situation.

But we are not hopelessly behind? We still have a chance?

– There is always a chance. Can’t say “hopelessly behind”. Never happen. If there is political will, the will of the people to go this way, it can be always, from any point. Will never be late.