Analysis: The ceasefire in Ukraine
By Pedro Marin, editor of Revista Opera web journal in Brazil, Feb 13, 2015. Original in Portugese here, translation by New Cold War.org. The translation is slightly revised by the author from the original.
A new ceasefire agreement was announced last week in the midst of the conflict in Ukraine. The agreement, reached in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, establishes a ceasefire to commence on February 15. It includes amnesty for prisoners involved in the combat, withdrawal of heavy military equipment along a demarcation line running, approximately, through the middle of the rebel regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, and resumption of “normal life” in the conflict zone in Eastern Ukraine. That should include a loosening of travel restrictions being enforced by Kiev on citizens traveling to and from Ukraine and the autonomous zones of Donetsk and Luhansk.
But the war will go on. The agreement does not bring peace – it gives time. Ukrainian tanks that, according to the agreement, must be removed from the fronts will be repaired and made ready for new tasks.
In practical terms, Russian president Vladimir Putin exchanged Debaltseve, an important railway center in Eastern Ukraine surrounded by rebels, as well as various other conquered territories, for time to prepare against new sanctions and for the military aid which Kiev will eventually receive from the U.S. Ukraine President Poroshenko, for his part, will have time to heal his army, badly damaged by the hard knocks it has taken in the East.
An unknown is that Ukraine’s storm troopers may get in the way of the country’s billionaire leaders. Dmitry Yarosh, leader of the notorious fascist group Right Sector, has voiced opposition to the Minsk deal and said that his paramilitary units will continue “active fighting” according to their “own plans”. A contemporary Night of the Long Knives may well be coming, as I predicted in an article in May last year.
That is, unless there is enough Western pressure to curb Right Sector attacks. Continued shellings during the previous ceasefire reached in September were widely ignored by Western governments and media organizations.
The Right Sector and other extremists will go on with their attacks against Eastern Ukraine. The insurgents will be obligated to fight back. The retaliation will be broadcast to the entire world as Russia’s non-fulfillment of the agreement. New sanctions will strike Moscow and maybe the advanced military aid to Kiev threatened by the U.S. will happen.* Poroshenko would head back to the East with its men better trained and armed. Hard times are to come for the insurgents.
* Since this statement was written, and one day after the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine went into effect, the European Union imposed new travel and financial sanctions on 19 citizens of Russia and Ukraine.
Revista Opera has waged a successful fundraising campaign to send a reporter to eastern Ukraine.
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