New Ukraine advisor at Kremlin: peace in Donbass?
Vladislav Surkov, a long-time aide to Vladimir Putin and most recently responsible for Russia's Ukraine policy, has exited government service. Dmitry Kozak, previously deputy prime minister in the Medvedev government, is now to set the course in Ukraine policy. Commentators hope this will mark a turning point in Russian-Ukrainian relations.
A crisis manager open to compromise
This personnel change is good for Ukrainian-Russian relations, political scientist Andrej Okara writes on the news website Apostroph:
“Clearly, Kozak's transfer to the presidential administration both reinforces and highlights his influence .... It also points to Surkov's failure and his inefficiency regarding Ukraine. Kozak is considered an effective crisis manager. He stands for compromise. Overall this is not the worst development for Ukrainian-Russian relations. After all, the politics for which Kozak stands are less geared towards aggression and direct confrontation.”
Idea of New Russia is off the table
Commenting on his radio broadcaster Echo of Moscow, editor-in-chief Alexei Venediktov is convinced that the Kremlin is changing its course on Ukraine:
“Surkov was the one who convinced Putin that Donetsk, Luhansk, Kharkov, Odessa and Mariupol would behave towards Russia exactly as the residents of the Crimea did. New Russia was his invention. ... I know Dmitry Kozak and am familiar with his views. If Putin has entrusted him with working out Russia's policy vis-à-vis Ukraine, it means that complicated and difficult negotiations are ahead. But the end result won't be a New Russia or an independent state [in Donbass], but a special part of the Ukrainian state that will return to Ukraine in the interest of Russia.”