Yavlinsky could replace Surkov as Russia's top negotiator for Ukraine

  • Mihai Turcanu
  • 2.2.2018 21:40

Rumours about the possible replacement of Russia's negotiator for Ukraine Vladislav Surkov by Grigori Yavlinsky have been circulating from 26 January. Why Russian President Vladimir Putin would take such a step is uncertain but it could be linked to Russia's recent willingness to soften its stance on the US proposal for a UN peacekeeping mission in Donbass

The Echo Moskvy newspaper backed the rumours, referencing high-ranking Kremlin sources. On 31 January, Yavlinsky confirmed Putin made this suggestion last November and stated he would assume the role. Yavlinsky is the liberal leader of the Yabloko party, is perceived negatively by many Russians due to criticising the use of force in the Chechnya war, and was quoted on several occasions stating that Russia should cease supporting the separatists in Ukraine. The rumours began the day Surkov met with US envoy for Ukraine, Kurt Volker, as Washington continued to insist on the deployment of UN peacekeepers to the Russian-Ukrainian border. Afterwards, Surkov was quoted by TASS saying that some US proposals were "doable" and will be studied carefully by Moscow, a statement backed by Putin's spokesperson. This development marks a visible shift in Russia's attitude from the previous round of negotiations in Belgrade, characterised by Volker as "a step back".

About author: Mihai Turcanu


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