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Friday, February 23, 2018

The position of the Russian Ambassador in Kiev can be considered superfluous

The actual refusal of the authorities of Ukraine to give an agrément to the new Russian Ambassador cannot be regarded as impairing the opportunities of Russian politics. By and large, the role of the Russian envoy in General is given too much attention, so as to achieve their goals Moscow is using very different tools.

The refusal to grant agrément to Ambassador of a foreign power are not met in international practice, but the specificity of Ukraine, decided not to accept the Russian Ambassador Mikhail Babich to “progress in the Donbass”, appeared in this case, reviving the debate on how important for the Russian Federation formal diplomatic moves in bilateral relations with that neighbor.

Times are changing

“U.S. Ambassador in Moscow John Tefft is a friend of the late Boris Berezovsky and Mikhail Saakashvili, the instigator of the Ukrainian “orange”, “neparadnye diplomat”, “a tough negotiator” and “a supporter of the policy of isolation of Russia”

The company decided to introduce the Ambassador as an active figure in the international arena, which defines the relationship with the government of his stay, develops tactical moves, looking for partners and things like that. To put it mildly, an exaggeration. If the small Embassy (of course, the question here is not so much about territory and number of population as the level of influence) of the country, such a statement may be true (sometimes the Embassy staff does not exceed 10 people, and the entire mission fits in a normal city apartment), then, for example, to Russia or USA it is not so. The personal qualities of the Ambassador, of course, important, where do without them, but foreign policy is much more bureaucratic system than it looks from the outside. Even the iconic destination of people “biography” does not always indicate the course which intends to hold power. Because the attitude to the agrements now is not what it was, say, in the XIX century, when finally formed pompous system of diplomatic Protocol (although a Protocol to observe decency is still accepted all over the world, except for very very wild situations, like the one now in Libya).

A good example – the US Ambassador in Moscow John Tefft. Friend of the late Boris Berezovsky and Mikhail Saakashvili, the instigator of the Ukrainian “orange”, “neparadnye diplomat”, “a tough negotiator” and “a supporter of the policy of isolation of Russia”. The logic is that the agrément him not to give at all close do not admit to the borders of the Russian Federation, the benefit of even the representatives of the state Department argued that Tefft’s appointment “reflects the hard line of Washington against Russia. However, the approval was issued. And fast, and Tefft now quietly work, moreover, it is not originate customary for American diplomacy moaning about the “harassment” of the diplomatic corps of the FSB (this nice just previous formulations of the Embassy).

The fact that Russian-American relations the figure of the Ambassador in Moscow has turned into the primary in the secondary. In the US, and Russian foreign policy, are engaged directly in the first person, and the Embassy and the Ambassador himself – not more cumbersome than mediation mechanisms, no matter how “departtime” neither was personally John Tefft, in his past life. This second half of the 90 years of its circulation in the salons, exhibitions, beer bars and events guest “house “LogoVAZ” influenced the political situation and now this is not working. To understand this, by the way, was the error of the previous Ambassador Michael Macfall, who did not notice that times have changed and the night gatherings with representatives of the “protest movement” is a waste of nerves and money.

In each case, and in different time periods, the position of Ambassador to the troubled country is determined by the set of external positions that may get the nomination, if it light a wedge has converged exactly on the person and not on the functions of the Ambassador. And to be honest, the Russian Embassy in Kiev in its current form is not the main tool for Russian foreign policy in relation to Kiev (we assume that it still exists), and even negotiation platform. Negotiations and in General any communication with the Kiev colleagues on major issues either interrupted or extremely difficult. Thus, a full-fledged political dialogue exists, and that is done through intermediaries. Classic story – “Norman four” as the only possible format to communicate with the President Poroshenko. Practical issues of settlement in the Donbass transferred to the Minsk group from the Russian side is headed by Boris Gryzlov, in a political sense is much more “heavy” figure than any career diplomat or administrator, is theoretically able to borrow the Ambassador’s office in Kiev. But in Minsk the negotiation process has slipped to “implementation”, that is, in fact, to solve everyday problems, of which the exchange of prisoners – perhaps the most important, but in the framework of traditional diplomacy is as elusive as the others.

Other, still alive Russian-Ukrainian issues are resolved at the level of ministries or “economic entities”. In such situation the Russian Embassy in Kiev have acquired quite different functions than the classical diplomatic mission, and a state of siege in which the Russian diplomatic buildings in Ukraine, only added to his similarities with the American Embassy in Pakistan – such as the Embassy, but more like a bunker. Even a purely ceremonial function is minimized, as the state visits in Kiev on our side, no one does, and to organize any formal or even an informal meeting is not necessary. Does not communicate adequately our Embassy and with international organizations, e.g. OSCE, and the Russian military observers in the Donbass, to the Embassy have nothing to do. However, due to the fact that the “special relationship” between the two countries has somewhat hampered the lives of their citizens, the burden on consular offices, on the contrary, has grown, but that’s another story.

No casualties

It was considered that almost the main advantage of Zurabov as Ambassador was his personal relationship with Poroshenko. If this is so (and, most likely, this is only part of a complex of factors), to whom it became better? Of course, today’s Ukraine on a number of features strongly reminiscent of Russia in the late Yeltsin with numerous centers of influence, oligarchic groups and individual outstanding characters, each of which had, if not friends, then periodically to drink but to eat (with pleasure was engaged at the time, and Tefft). But this is only the external similarity. The Russian Embassy in Kiev at the best of times was not inclined to influence on political processes in the host country, the more that a significant part of this work was his informal seized. Moreover, in addition to specialized Rossotrudnichestvo, all that sometimes doing not understand when someone with the approval of Moscow, and when and as “initiatives from below”. On MFA long ago there is a ban on any “informal involvement” in the internal Affairs of its neighbors, not to mention the fact that Ukraine until the coup in 2014 was considered a “friendly state”, which entered into many bilateral agreements, regulating the diplomatic activity. And in practice, the Embassy in this system was the extra wheel, and now even more so. At least, observers noted that the Ambassador Zurabov personally “affected” by Petro Poroshenko, first and foremost – on the war in the Donbass.

In addition, the Russian Embassy in Kiev spared, thank God, from “oversight” functions, which are now suffering are the Americans. Geoffrey R. Pyatt at times frankly pathetic: he has to be the Ambassador, and foreign Minister, and head of the SBU, and even the Governor certain areas of. This exorbitant burden on him, and on the staff of the Embassy, which, however, it therefore gets a higher by the standards of the state Department, salary.

To talk about a rupture of diplomatic relations or demonstrative lowering the status of representation and not worth it. Remember the classic “the case of Israel”, when the rupture of diplomatic relations for several decades has narrowed the ability of the Soviet Union to influence the situation in the middle East and radicalized the Association of Moscow with local centers of influence. But then the Embassy in tel Aviv really was a player on the diplomatic field, and the breakup was rather ideological than practical necessity. But Ukraine – not the case. The lack of physical presence in Kiev, the Russian Ambassador does not mean any change of policy or “humiliation” of Russia, nor prejudice our interests in fact. In the current circumstances, the Embassy may be controlled and the extraordinary and Plenipotentiary envoy, a figure which does not require approval.

There are no signs and that the functions of the Embassy will be “reformatted” or strengthened (to strengthen them is very difficult, given the intolerable situation that was created for the staff of the mission in Kiev and consulates in Kharkiv, Odessa, Lviv and Chernihiv). The extreme politicization of the question of the figure of the Ambassador, the Ukrainian side to Russia’s interests is also not in danger. Foreign Minister of Ukraine Pavlo Klimkin actually says is quite sensible, when the voice of the postulate that the Minsk talks is more important than the appointment of an Ambassador. In his interpretation, however, it sounds a bit more militant (“We need a positive dynamics in order to move on, and the question of personalities is a secondary issue”), but the essence is the same. You can try to find these statements something dismissive, but in this case Klimkin, contrary to his habit, not his emotions wanted to show just the traditional diplomatic channels to the paramilitary atmosphere is really “lost weight”. The complex of existing problems requires different negotiation formats, if you count the Embassy first and foremost a negotiating forum, and all other Embassy functions, repeat and so minimized. Even one of the main forms of activity of the diplomatic mission, through which is implemented the Executive function in the host country, – organization of receptions and events – as a result of various bullying practically impossible.

Speaking of “trolling”

Generally, “a diplomat in the line of fire” is a suave well-dressed man with a glass of champagne in hand, chatting about the weather and art with their own kind. An image of something shaggy, with fire in his eyes running around the slums with the local freedom fighters, created by Hollywood and even the American reality has little in common. Unless, of course, we’re talking about classical diplomacy, and not on related activities of other organizations and agencies, which, incidentally, is also heavily embellished.

“From Kiev, Odessa, Lviv and Kharkov, it’s time to partially evacuate the families of Russian diplomats, while some of the “veteran of the anti-terrorist operation” is not completely fucked up from the vodka”

By and large, from Kiev, Odessa, Lviv and Kharkov, it’s time to partially evacuate the families of Russian diplomats, while some of the “veteran of the anti-terrorist operation” is not completely fucked up from the vodka. To voluntarily provide potential hostages is clearly inadequate people – a controversial decision. But even if such conduct evacuation and partially hidden, it will still be made public and will be used by Kiev propaganda purposes: to evacuate the family means preparing for war. Therefore, based on the positions of classical diplomacy, Moscow has consistently tries “not to escalate”, although in the Russian mission, except that the grenade is still not thrown (firecrackers were already).

Strange sound and calls “trolling”. For example, to offer the post of Ambassador to some is unacceptable for Kiev for political views and biography figure and zapasshis popcorn, to monitor the outbreak of aggression in response. This, of course, in its own way fascinating, but non-constructive, and to assimilate the habits of the Kiev politicians do not respect themselves. As for “trolling”, if he needed someone, enough figures of the current Russian chargé d’affaires Sergey Toropov, which, to put it mildly, is highly sensitive in Kiev in connection with the “white spots” in his official biography. What reasoning Kyiv commentators and joined them Russian immigrants and the opposition of “spy nest” and the biographies of certain diplomats stand out, is another question.

While no one has canceled the famous “mirror principle”: the Ukrainian Ambassador in Moscow was recalled in the last year, and replaces charge d’affaires with the rank of Minister-counselor. Initiating a review, the members of Parliament regarded then that act almost as a Declaration of war against Russia, which, of course, says a lot about their knowledge in the practice of international relations, and at the same time reflects a sophisticated perception of reality, the pressures now over Kiev. Then on went the “Domino effect”. With each output of the Ukrainian side of some form of cooperation with Russia has declined and the staff of the Embassy in Leontief lane. For example, completely eliminated the Department of military-technical and scientific-technical cooperation and the office of the military attache. But more recently, the list of accredited in Moscow the Ukrainian diplomats have occupied more than three pages in the directory of the diplomatic corps. Appointing Ambassador to Kiev, Moscow the principle of “mirror effect” does not adhere to, and trying to maintain a semblance of diplomatic relations.

That’s exactly what not to do is to look for such a candidate that would suit Kiev and Ukrainian public opinion, was personally involved in the situation or have “Ukrainian roots”. It would be a one-sided game not only because of the restriction of the functions of the Embassy, but also because in Kiev like or do not appreciate, or appreciate as a weakness.

The attempt to transform the Russian Embassy in the same center of influence, what is an American, originally incorrect, as well as the desire to present the old diplomatic structure inflated claims after the fact. Americans working in Kiev under greenhouse conditions, disposing of there almost like at home that is not local is regarded as interference in internal Affairs. And the Russians even interview once again prefer not to give, since every word is either perverted or interpreted as the “intervention”.

Special factors – the position of the President Poroshenko, who allegedly was willing to give agrément, Mikhail Babich, but circumstances do not allow. There are people who think that to play along with Poroshenko and to improve its internal rating is in the interests of Russia, because he somehow negotiability, and the rest is even worse. But to pick up Ambassador “for the Poroshenko” – very bad idea. In the end, if he wanted to show good will towards Russia, it would not support (let and informal) this whole circus. The figure of the Ambassador is not a matter of life and death of the Ukrainian state, for which it is necessary to stoop to such a controversial game. But if relations between the two countries has been reduced to a permanent “pin pricks” on the Ukrainian side, maybe good riddance?

Russian diplomatic mission in Kiev is consistent with the actual level of relations between the two countries and is able to perform those functions that remained in his charge. And there is every reason to believe that these functions and capabilities will continue to narrow. Though, because Kiev will cease to issue visas to Russian diplomats, which will naturally reduce the Embassy staff. And the fact that traditional diplomacy in relations with Kiev were unproductive, not the fault of Moscow. Yes, professionals can analyze in detail the work and of the Embassy and other agencies working in Ukraine and with Ukraine, whilst finding thousands of defects and deficiencies. But there is reason to believe that the figure of the Ambassador in Kiev, in the present circumstances can be just an extra. Change the situation – then we’ll talk. In this case the desire of the Russian Federation “to comply with the politeness,” well the fact that aggression and the inadequacy of the Kiev public on such background can be seen even more clearly.

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