A New And Unimproved Ceasefire: Russian Tanks Are Spotted Crossing Into Ukraine From Russia; Putin Likely Has Already Achieved Most Of His Goals — President Poroshenko’s ‘Shotgun Wedding’
Adam Chandler, writing on The Atlantic’s website this afternoon, discusses the situation in Ukraine; and, argues, with the ink hardly being dry, “there are plenty of reasons to be pessimistic about the new Ukraine ceasefire that was signed in Minsk, Belarus, on Thursday morning after nearly 17 hours of negotiations. The first,” he says, is “there was already a ceasefire signed in Minsk, Belarus in September, which failed to end the violence between Ukrainian forces, and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.”
“The new ceasefire, brokered by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and French President Francois Hollande,” Mr. Chandler writes. “will go into effect at midnight on Saturday. It calls for the withdrawal of heavy artillery from eastern Ukraine, and the establishment of a demarcation line between Ukrainian troops, and pro-Russian separatists. However, Chancellor Merkel “glumly characterized the agreement as only providing a “glimmer of hope,”for ending the 10-month crisis, during which more than 5,000 people have died. Tellingly,” Mr. Chandler adds, “even as Russian President Vladimir Putin was negotiating in Minsk, the Ukrainian military said that 50 tanks and 40 missile systems were spotted crossing from Russia into Ukraine overnight.”
“The enemy continues to strengthen its its forces in the most dangerous areas, especially in north-east Luhansk region, in the direction of Debaltseve,” said Ukrainian military spokesman, Andriy Lssenko. “Meanwhile,” Mr. Chandler notes, “Thursday’s agreement is being portrayed as a ceasefire…stocked with pro-Russian spoils,” as Reuters News Agency noted; under the terms of agreement, “Ukraine will….get control of its border with Russia; but, in consultation with the rebels — only after the regions gain more autonomy under constitutional reform by the end of 2015.”
Bloomberg News’s Leonid Bershidsky explained the deal also “means the pro-Russian forces get to keep all they have won in the period since September; and, all they will probably add in the next two days, during which fighting will still be permitted, according to the document.”
“The good news for Ukraine,” Mr. Chandler concludes, “is that as the ceasefire was signed, the International Monetary Fund announced it would give the Ukrainian government a $17.5B loan — to help it stave off bankruptcy. Ukraine’s currency has continued to plummet throughout the crisis, which Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has said is costing his government some $8M per day.”
Deal Does Little To Restrain Putin’s Adventurism
The Washington Post, in an editorial out this afternoon (Feb. 12, 2015) said that this latest ceasefire agreement, “does little to restrain Putin’s ambition of creating a puppet state in eastern Ukraine…that could be used to sabotage the rest of the country.” “In exchange for de-escalation of the crisis, “European leaders induced President Poroshenko to accept terms that gives Mr Putin a veto over any final political settlement in eastern Ukraine — and, permission to continue violating the country’s sovereignty in the meantime.”
“Most significantly,” the Post writes, “control over the border between Russia and Ukraine, would not be returned to Kiev, until the end of 2015; — and then — only after a “constitutional reform” acceptable to Moscow and its surrogates, grants powers to Russian-controlled regions. Without border control, Ukraine cannot prevent Russian forces, supplies, and agents from flowing across [the border]. While the deal promises a withdrawal of “foreign armed formations,” from Ukraine, there is no deadline — and, Mr. Putin’s contention that “NATO has legions in the country, — but, Russia does not.”
No wonder Putin accepted this deal. It does nothing to restrain him, obviously by the fact that Russia was moving more tanks and heavy equipment into Ukraine from Russia — before the ‘ink was dry,’ on the ceasefire. It is also likely that Putin has achieved most of his territorial ambitions already; and, sees little threat from the U.S, and NATO to his adventurist, territorial grab.
This kind of deal, following the White House ‘deal’ to reopen relations with Cuba; and the nuclear talks with Iran, is sure to worry Israel, Saudi Arabia and others, that the White House wants an Iranian nuclear weapons deal so badly, that it will ‘give away the farm in the process.’ If I were Israel or Saudi Arabia, this ceasefire agreement between Russia and Ukraine — would make me believe that a nuclear Iran is practically…a foregone conclusion.
Investors and traders cheered the Russia/Ukraine ceasefire; and, European stocks also rallied; but, before the confetti can hit the floor, Ukraine’s President Poroshenko, is likely lamenting a ‘shotgun wedding,’ and, an ill-conceived capitulation to Moscow. Will Tehran be next — to experience this kind of “hard bargaining?” V/R, RCP