Tag Archives: negotiations

Russia-Ukraine talks resume – and at last they’re discussing PEACE!

The media are still banging the war drums but representatives of Ukraine and Russia were meeting again today (March 14) – and the agenda was a way to restore peace.

According to a BBC report here,

Ukrainian official Mykhailo Podolyak says both sides have now laid out their positions.

Earlier he said the latest talks would focus on establishing a ceasefire, the withdrawal of Russian troops, and security guarantees for Ukraine.

The pundits on Politics Live also mentioned the talks, saying they need to provide a way for Russia to withdraw with dignity, saying it has won something from what its leaders thought would be a walkover but turned into a wreck.

Nobody has talked much about peace possibilities so This Writer hesitates to bring forward suggestions that may seem naive. But we have to start somewhere – right?

So how about this:

  • Ukraine agrees not to join Nato – but to negotiate a special status with that organisation such that, if Ukraine’s borders are violated in the future, Nato would act as an ally and step in. This would provide Russia with the buffer between itself and Nato nations that Vladimir Putin wanted, while offering Ukraine the security that Volodymyr Zelenskyy demands.
  • Ukraine and Russia agree that the breakaway eastern regions hold referenda on their future – possibly a series of votes on whether to remain in Ukraine or become autonomous, and on whether to merge with Russia. All parties to abide by the result. Incursions into these regions by (allegedly Nazi) military or paramilitary groups to cease, with breaches being policed by a coalition of Ukraine and whoever governs the affected region.
  • Ukraine relinquishes any claim on the Crimea (or at least the vast majority of it that is inhabited by Russians.
  • Russia agrees to help repair the damage done to Ukraine by its invasion.

Would that be a good starting-point?

I am concerned that the same official who reported on the talks (above) has tweeted the following unhelpful message:

I don’t see how a discussion of the different countries’ political systems helps deal with the practical matters at issue here.

The questions involve what each country wants and how they can achieve the best compromise that can’t be seen to harm either of them – not whether their politics are good or bad. That is a matter for each nation’s people to decide.

I hope an agreement can be reached but I fear it will be difficult to get past the negotiators’ entrenched opinions.

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Russia-Ukraine: here are some – amazing – reasons to be cheerful

Liz Truss: even though it is unlikely to be serious, we can hope that Putin’s nuclear threat acts as a deterrent that stops her from making stupid, ineffectual threats against a country that could squash the UK like a bug.

The UK’s right-wing media may be doomsaying at an industrial level but the Russia-Ukraine crisis is not as horrifying as they’re saying.

For starters – as This Site and others suggested would happen – Ukraine and Russia are to hold negotiations for peace, at an undisclosed location on the border with Belarus.

Russia’s Vladimir Putin had suggested talks take place in Minsk but Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was reluctant to go to a country that had acted as a staging post for the Russian invasion of his country.

It’s a reason to be hopeful, although Mr Zelenskyy said he was not convinced the meeting would have a positive outcome. However:

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he needed to use every opportunity to secure peace.

Bet then – just when some of us were starting to think we could see an end to the crisis – Putin announced that he is putting his country’s nuclear forces on “special alert”.

He said it was because of “aggressive statements” by the West.

It has been widely interpreted as a threat to launch nuclear missiles against western countries. So – an escalation of tensions and we should all be terrified, right?

Well, no.

Mature analysts are saying Putin may now believe he has miscalculated the amount of resistance his forces were likely to meet in Ukraine, along with the response from western nations that have proved more united than he expected.

So he has reached for new ideas – including the nuclear option. The trouble is, nuclear warfare is pointless for him – insane, in fact – because the west would respond by sending its own nuclear arsenal to turn Russia into a radioactive cinder. Mutually Assured Destruction – there’s a reason the acronym is “MAD”.

So – again – it’s unlikely Putin actually means he’s prepared to use nuclear weapons.

That’s a good thing too, isn’t it?

But – there’s always a “but” – it is a serious demand for western nations to tone down their rhetoric, and the West has taken that seriously.

And this brings me to the last of my reasons to be hopeful: It stops Liz Truss from putting her foot in her mouth every time she opens it.

The Queen of Cheese’s latest boneheadedness has been to support calls for UK citizens to go to Ukraine – a move which, if it happened, would almost certainly be seen by Putin as the UK sending troops to that country (despite an official statement from her colleague, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, that this will not take place).

Unable to stop the flow of gibberish from her mouth, Truss claimed that anybody going to Ukraine would be fighting “for democracy”.

It’s exactly the kind of inflammatory talk that is likely to push Putin over the edge and endanger us all.

So we should welcome the decision by western leaders to modify their tone.  Hopefully it means Truss will be told to hold her tongue until the crisis is over.

Source: Ukraine and Russia set to hold negotiations at border with Belarus, says office of President Zelenskyy | World News | Sky News

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Brexit myth-busting: a clean break? It can’t be done!

Ironic: This UK Government advert says, “Get ready for Brexit” – but it seems the organisation least ready for it is the UK Government.

As EU leaders ask Boris Johnson for another attempt at a Brexit deal, let’s debunk another myth – that “no deal” Brexit would be a ‘clean break’.

Here’s Simon Wren-Lewis on Mainly Macro again:

A clean break Brexit inevitably leads to 10 years at least of negotiation with the EU, negotiations in which the UK side will eventually be forced to accept the terms the ERG now despise.

The longer our government holds out in those negotiations the longer it takes.

In reality the so called clean break Brexit is a promise to continue Brexit negotiations but from an even weaker position.

So leaving with “no deal” will in fact weaken the UK’s negotiating position with the European Union and force us to accept future trading conditions that will harm the country.

Source: mainly macro: How the Brexiters have controlled the narrative around Brexit

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Crazy: Theresa May thinks she can hold us to ransom over Brexit

Cognitive dissonance: Theresa May is acting as though her historic defeat last week never happened.

The latest stage of the slow-motion Brexit train crash has unfolded in Parliament, with Theresa May promising the Earth if only MPs will support her abysmal “deal”.

If her plan passes Parliament, she tells us, she will involve MPs, business groups and unions in the next phase of negotiations. Not only that, but she has guaranteed to strengthen workers’ rights and environmental protections post-Brexit.

Oh, and she’ll do something about the Northern Irish backstop – but it seems clear that she has no idea what that will be. She hasn’t said anything about amending the Good Friday Agreement or doing a bilateral deal with the Irish government, so it seems clear that the stories about them in the press over the weekend were fake news.

But then, it’s all a pack of lies, isn’t it?

Once she gets what she wants, she’ll do what she likes.

That is the lesson of the damp-squib attempt at a Tory rebellion in June last year, when Mrs May promised the Earth to 14 Conservatives who were threatening to vote against her Brexit plan at that time.

As soon as she had secured their support and won the vote, the government issued a statement saying, “We have not, and will not, agree to the House of Commons binding the Government’s hands in the negotiations.”

Mrs May lied then and you can bet she’s lying now.

And that’s at least one reason you can’t trust what she’s saying about calls for a second referendum.

Labour has submitted an amendment to Mrs May’s Brexit update, calling for a vote on its alternative plan – or on a new referendum on a Brexit deal or proposal that manages to gain majority support in the House of Commons.

If you’re still living under a false impression that Labour doesn’t have a Brexit proposal, you’ve probably been misinformed by the Tory press, or by a Tory stooge on the radio or TV. For clarity: Labour proposes that the UK remain in a post-Brexit customs union with the EU and maintains a strong relationship with the single market. Citizens’ rights and consumer standards would be harmonised with the EU’s.

The question of the Northern Irish border would not arise as the border would remain open.

One aspect on which I’m not sure is whether Labour wants MPs to vote on a Brexit plan and carry it through, or to vote on a Brexit plan and then take it to the public in a new referendum with the other option being remaining in the EU.

It seems clear that neither option is supported by Mrs May.

She’s still saying the choice will be between her mess of a deal and “no deal”, and won’t accept any other proposals.

As for a second referendum, she seems to support the contradictory view that denying people a chance to vote is somehow upholding democracy.

Yes, we had a vote in 2016. The result was heavily influenced by extravagant claims that turned out to be lies, and by investment in the various campaign groups by foreign powers that had no right to be involved.

And now a significant number of people who were too young to vote at the time have joined the electoral register, replacing people who did vote but have since died. Don’t they get a say in a matter that will affect the course of their entire lives?

Not according to Mrs May. She said: “A second referendum could damage social cohesion by undermining faith in our democracy.”

You might consider that to be another lie.

A spokesperson later stated: “There is a covenant of trust between the electorate and the government of the day and the PM’s firm belief is that it is the government’s duty to act on clearly expressed wishes of the electorate and, obviously, were that not to happen, that wouldn’t be, and shouldn’t be, without consequence.”

The government of the day was, of course, David Cameron’s government of 2015-16 – not Theresa May’s government of 2017 onwards (or even her government of 2016-17); the change at the top meant a change of direction. No government can be bound by the actions of its predecessor, nor can we be expected to assume that Mrs May has done exactly as Mr Cameron would have, had he stayed in his position rather than trotting off to the continent like a squealing pig.

She’s pushing her personal Brexit at the rest of us because that is what she, personally, wants to do. It has nothing to do with democracy.

But Parliament has a chance to change all that – and, given the evidence of recent events, it seems Parliament may embrace such a change. Mrs May must be shown she cannot hold us to ransom.

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If true, this makes a laughing-stock of anyone who demanded a ‘no confidence’ vote from Corbyn

Fading to black: Theresa May could be returning to the UK to face a vote of ‘no confidence’ triggered, not by Labour, but by her own MPs.

Less than 24 hours ago, Liberal Democrats, Scottish Nationalists, so-called ‘rebel’ Conservatives and even some members of the Labour Party were belittling Jeremy Corbyn for refusing to call a vote of ‘no confidence’ in Theresa May’s government over her postponement of Parliament’s Brexit vote.

Mr Corbyn said he would not call such a vote until Mrs May had returned from her latest desperate begging mission to Europe. She claimed she would renegotiate parts of her dire Brexit deal, but we all knew the best she could hope for would be reassurances on the more vague passages.

As it happens, she didn’t even manage that – and now she has returned home to a nasty surprise:

https://twitter.com/ToryFibs/status/1072615722403147777

That’s right – Sir Graham Brady, chair of the Conservative Party’s backbench 1922 Committee, has arranged a meeting with Mrs May, to take place after Prime Minister’s Questions today (December 12). It seems unlikely this can mean anything other than that he has received the 48 letters required to trigger a vote of “no confidence” in Mrs May by members of the Parliamentary Conservative Party – her own people.

If true, this has to represent the funniest turning of the political tables in a long, long time.

All through Tuesday we heard a succession of Tories, Liberal Democrats, Scottish Nationalists and even Labour MPs demanding a “no confidence” vote from Corbyn – even though they themselves could have triggered one if they were that desperate – and ridiculing him for holding back.

Now, despite the fact that his conditions have been met…

https://twitter.com/rosskempsell/status/1072512218800025602

… Mr Corbyn appears to have been pre-empted – by Mrs May’s own MPs.

I don’t know about you but I laughed like a lunatic when I heard.

I mean, this is pretty funny now:

John McDonnell had the answer:

Busted!

And the online jokers have been having fun:

This clip makes monkeys of Tories like Anna Soubry and the BBC:

https://twitter.com/johnshafthauer/status/1072449030351974400

Ms Soubry called the Labour opposition a “joke” but, considering the behaviour of her fellow Tories, the joke’s on her.

As for Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis, who suggested “She’s the real opposition”, referring to Ms Soubry… well, if that’s the BBC view, it is behind the times.

Of course, we should not give too much credibility to rumours:

That’s quite correct, although we can track the progress of the rumour:

https://twitter.com/ToryFibs/status/1072528272850862088

https://twitter.com/BrexitBattalion/status/1072593241864835072

In response, Corbyn supporter Aaron Bastani tweeted: “I’m pleased to announce yet another Labour masterclass and another melt disasterclass.”

Some are already speculating about Mrs May’s replacement:

But – again – we are living in interesting times that throw up complicated questions, like this:

https://twitter.com/_hanimustafa/status/1072606207616212992

And this:

https://twitter.com/ToryFibs/status/1072611764506910721

While we wait for the facts to sort themselves out, here’s an ironic factette, considering all this has beeen happening while Mrs May was in Europe:

Harold Wilson once said a week in politics was a long time. Now the situation is changing several times during a single day.

Who knows what the next 24 hours will bring?

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Tory ministers fail to agree strategy for trade talks with the EU

Secretary of State for Environment, Michael Gove leaving Downing Street following a Brexit Cabinet meeting. He has reportedly demanded an end to the Working Time Directive operating in the UK during EU membership – meaning the loss of many workers’ rights.

Isn’t the Tory government supposed to be going forward to a trade deal, united in common purpose?

That doesn’t seem likely to This Writer.

Jeremy Corbyn said about the government, earlier this week, “It is division and in-fighting in her own Cabinet and their reliance on the DUP that makes them weak.”

That rings true.

Mr Corbyn also said: “We have already seen Ministers in the Prime Minister’s Cabinet… give the impression that the agreement [struck earlier in December – two months late] can be changed or ignored.”

And he said: “There were also worrying reports over the weekend about what some senior Cabinet Ministers will demand from the Prime Minister to support a phase one deal.”

It seems clear that, with Cabinet ministers pushing and pulling in all directions, the Tories still – years since announcing that they would hold a referendum on whether to stay in the EU or leave it – don’t know what they want from Brexit.

But they are determined to be the ones negotiating it. This can only end in disaster for the UK.

The ministers most closely involved with Brexit talks began discussing options for the future UK-EU relationship in a Downing Street meeting which lasted about 90 minutes.

Brexiteers Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Liam Fox, alongside Gavin Williamson, who backed Remain in the referendum, were understood to be vocal on the need to “diverge” from EU regulations.

It is believed soft Brexit backers such as Chancellor Philip Hammond and Home Secretary Amber Rudd leaned further towards “alignment” with Brussels rules to maintain close ties with the EU in the future.

Ministers did not agree a position but there was discussion of the potential for “gradual divergence” – a step-by-step move away from EU laws after Brexit and the conclusion of a subsequent implementation period in 2021.

Source: Ministers clash in Brexit war cabinet | Latest Brexit news and top stories – The New European


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What IS this ‘important intervention’ coming from Theresa May on September 21?

[Image from Twitter.]

Round Four of the Brexit talks has apparently been pushed back a week because Theresa May is preparing to make an “important intervention”.

According to The Guardian:

The European parliament’s Brexit coordinator has predicted that Theresa May will make an “important intervention” later this month and that the next round of divorce negotiations could be delayed as a result.

Guy Verhofstadt’s comments come as expectation grows that the prime minister will make a speech on Brexit before the Tory party conference in October, which is expected to build on the position papers published over the summer.

The Belgian MEP said: “Apparently there will be an important intervention by the British prime minister in the coming days, it is foreseen on the 21 September,” and said that the fourth instalment of Brexit talks could be pushed back a week.

Others have different ideas:

That would be welcome, wouldn’t it? Especially so if bankers Morgan Stanley are right and the Conservative minority government is set to collapse in 2018 – due to in-fighting over Brexit.

Perhaps she’ll act to prevent such a collapse taking place and call a new general election?

Ha ha! Oh dear, what am I suggesting.

Of course she wouldn’t do that!

It would be in the national interest.


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