Gryzlov appointed as The Kremlin’s Contact Group Rep

December 27, 2015

For the first time since the “Contact Group” started meeting regarding the “issues” and “solutions” in the occupied Donbas, The Kremlin has appointed a real decision maker.  A man who has made decisions about Ukraine that have led to historic outcomes before – albeit those historic outcomes where then entirely wasted.

Boris Gryzlov, long time chum of Vladislav Surkov who remains overseer of the “Ukraine issue” for the Kremlin, is a man who in 2004. agreed with having another round of presidential elections that saw Viktor Yanukovych eventually beaten by Viktor Yushenko.

Mr Gryzlov is also a permanent member of the Russian Security Council.


In short he is a big name with significant political clout and possessing direct access to The Kremlin and its innermost (and ever-shrinking) decision making conclave.

Some may indeed interpret his appointment, being a Surkov ally, as Surkov currently getting the better of Deputy Prime Minister Volodin within The Kremlin when it comes to matters within the occupied Donbas.

It will be like old times for both former-President Kuchma and Boris Gryzlov – both sat together again around a table discussing outcomes that the Kremlin really doesn’t like, and Kremlin interference that Ukraine robustly rallies against.

However, it is one thing to communicate and arrive at mutually agreed and acceptable outcomes – it is another to communicate for the sake of communicating with the aim of obstructing mutually agreed and acceptable outcomes by obfuscation – and yet another to have the gravitas to deliver ultimatums that are immediately understood.

The “why Gryzlov”, and “why now” questions naturally arise.

The appointment of Mr Gryzlov would seem unnecessary simply to continue the obstructionism and obfuscation – thus far two lesser mortals (Zurabov, and then  Kulmuhametov) have been tasked and adequately accomplished such “bad will” talks effectively – so which of the other options?

Having charged the “nationalist” sentiment within Russia, upped the “fortress Russia” rhetoric, and projected the image domestically of return as a “global power”, is it feasible to believe that any genuine desire to fulfill Minsk II obligations will be forthcoming with Duma elections in 2016 (regardless of rigged results)?  A serious change of policy either before or immediately after those elections seems rather unlikely – nevertheless it cannot be ruled out now that Mr Gryzlov has been appointed.

Perhaps Mr Gryzlov has been appointed to “impress” not Ukraine with his political weight/name recognition – but the Kremlin proxies.  Time will swiftly tell.

Indeed the chances of a serious change in policy prior to the Russian presidential elections in 2018 seem somewhat unlikely too for the same reasons as those in the above paragraph – although if as is said, 24 hours is a long time in politics, just over 2 years is a metaphorical is a lifetime for a Kremlin dealing with the consequences of poor policy decisions both home and abroad in both ever greater quantity and scale.

It will be interesting to see not only how Mr Gryzlov changes the dynamic of the “Contact Group”, but why he has been specifically chosen (to do so) now.


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