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Russia criticizes Ukraine-Croatia cooperation plans

The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a June 17 statement criticizing the cooperation agreement signed last week between the Ukrainian and Croatian governments in reintegrating occupied Donbas into the Ukrainian state. The statement criticized “the lack of productiveness and irrelevance of sich steps, that in no way support resolving the internal Ukrainian conflict.” It criticized the creation of “parallel structures” instead of supporting dialogue with the framework of the Trilateral Contact Group in Minsk.

 

The June 13 agreement calls upon a working group of Ukrainians and Croatians to study the Croatian experience in reintegrating the occupied territories and returning refugees, renewing the trust of the public and infrastructure, and working with international assistance in reintegrating the territories.

 

Zenon Zawada: From the very outset of the Donbas warfare, top Ukrainian officials indicated they would take the Croatian strategy in dealing with Donbas. In essence, this approach involves exhausting the separatist rebels, as the Croatians had done in the Krajina region in 1993-1995, and then launching a swift military strike taking control and reintegrating the territory. Ukrainian authorities likely considered this strategy without considering how much the Russians would invest in Donbas and how long they could withstand Western sanctions.

 

Now it’s apparent that the Croatian approach is not feasible, as the Ukrainian side is just as exhausted after three years of fighting, if not more so. So while such cooperation is helping Ukrainians understand what can be done with Donbas, we don’t see that approach as realistic in resolving the war.

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