The Moscow Times, one of several mouthpieces of Russian President Vladimir Putin and of his Kremlin government, sees the current flareup of shooting between government forces on the one hand and “rebels” and their Russian bosses and reinforcements in the Donbass region of Donetsk as a test. Recall that Donbass is on the road to Black Sea coastal Mariupol, a key urbanized area on the coastal road to Russia-occupied Crimea.
The organ is right.
Moscow clearly wants Kiev to implement its vision of the Minsk agreement—a special status for the separatist controlled areas, retaining Russian-backed armies and de-facto control of the border with Russia, with only nominal oversight from Kiev.
The Kremlin wants to retain political control over separatist-held territory as a “structural veto” on Ukrainian security and foreign policy. Moscow hopes that the Trump administration alongside France and Germany will pressure Poroshenko to accept Russian demands under Minsk-2.
But the real test actually is two tests. The first is whether President Donald Trump will, instead, recall and implement the Budapest Memorandum, which among other things requires signatory Russia to respect and honor Ukrainian territorial integrity, and begin enforcing the Memorandum by sending arms to Ukraine with which it actually can defend itself against those “rebels” and the Russian armor and artillery forces both in Donetsk and in Lukhansk.
The other test is whether Trump will do anything about Russia’s occupation of Georgia.
OK, a third test, too: whether Trump will follow through, promptly, on deploying an anti-missile shield into the eastern European nations bordering on Russia, as ex-President Barack Obama (D) had chit-chatted about doing late in his administration (and in southeastern Europe, too, against Iranian missiles).