Ukrainian Ceasefire – Where to From Here?

While the second Ukrainian ceasefire holds – just, what happens from here? France, Germany, and the US, continue to call for the ceasefire to be honoured; and heavy weapons on both sides to be withdrawn.

Crimean_crisis_IMG_8624_(13284739165)Meanwhile, the House of Lords in the UK, has produced a report stating the government made a ‘catastrophic misreading’ of the action Putin would take over the EU’s meddling in Ukrainian affairs! Hello… did someone suddenly find one of my posts?

Russia under Putin was always going to be a very different Russia from that at the end of the Cold War. As soon as he rose in the Russian political hierarchy he would state on a regular basis, the fall of the USSR was the worst thing to have happened to Russia.

If that wasn’t enough to ring alarm bells in the West, an official American document drafted in 2000, lays out Putin’s aspirations for his new Russia as such. ‘The three core Russian foreign policy documents adopted at the beginning of Putin’s tenure present the vision of a multi-polar world, with Russia exerting a strong influence on its “near abroad” – the former members of the Soviet Union. In the future, Russia also sees itself playing a major role in the Asia-Pacific region and the Middle East.’

Ex-Soviet satellite countries Czechoslovakia, Poland and Hungry signed up and became members of NATO in the late 1990’s. This didn’t sit well with Russia, but did others take notice? No. In 2004, Estonia, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Latvia, Slovakia, Rumania, and Slovenia were seduced by the EU federalists. Suspicion from Russia as to NATO’s real objectives continued to grow, and with good reason.

Yet again they did nothing, except voice their disapproval through diplomatic channels. Still the EU and NATO learnt nothing. In 2014, when Ukraine’s pro-Russian government was toppled and a pro-Western President put in place it’s little wonder Russia moved, took over Crimea, and to all intents and purposes increased her borders into Ukraine.

Russia’s fear is NATO would attempt to take over the Black Sea port of Sevastopol, home to Russia’s large Black Sea Fleet. A scenario not dissimilar to the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, when Russia came too close to US borders. Who can blame them for thinking the same as the Americans did 50 years ago? And so, after a year of fighting, with over 5,000 deaths, we’ve got a second Ukrainian cease-fire.

Can the Bear be got Back in its Cave:

The damage, unfortunately, is done. The EU continued to poke the bear until eventually, it came out of its lair, the problem now, is how it can be got back in??????????????????????????

Even if the Ukrainian ceasefire does hold, the separatists are not going to give up the ground they’ve gained. Russia could easily take the sting out of the situation simply by recalling its troops. This though, would allow Ukraine to move its troops back into the area, and Putin is not going to allow that anytime soon. He just continues to inform the world it’s nothing to do with him, and he has no control over the separatists.

The US has muted it may be prepared to supply the Ukraine with heavy weapons, an idea not sanctioned by the EU, and with good reason. It would give Putin the excuse he wants to send in even bigger guns and rocket launchers. All out war would be the end result and the Ukrainian army would be no match for the Russians.

Are Sanctions Working:

 Nobody, not even Putin, wants to get involved in another European war. While the current sanctions have had some effect, the biggest contributor to the fall of the Russian rouble, is the drop in the oil price worldwide. Pressure from the US may well have had something to do with this. No-one though, is prepared to admit it.

Putin remains Top of the Polls:

Putin has an 80% popularity rating in Russia, something else he’s not prepared to give up. The Russians are fed a totally different story to that we in the West hear and read. The EU and US were meddling in Ukrainian affairs, involved in the downfall of the pro-Russian government. NATO wants to position missiles on Ukraine borders, pointing toward Russian cities. Maybe not a million miles away from the truth.

The Russian state media is accused by many Russian journalists and academics as being out of control. Running a nationwide propaganda campaign which they say smacks of the old style KGB in a new guise. These same journalists, academics, and various other experts, are themselves accused of un-patriotism, and being agitators, when they dare criticise the State’s action in Ukraine.

It’s no wonder Putin’s popularity remains so high when Mr and Mrs average Russian read in their daily papers the separatists are freedom fighters, Ukrainian troops kill babies, and Putin’s only interest is to protect ethnic Russians from Ukraine, and the West’s, aggression.

Lessons should be learnt from the Georgia Conflict:

Crimean_crisis_IMG_8794_(13285093464)The EU, US, and Ukraine, should study the recent history of Georgia and Russia seven years ago.

Georgia attacked its own separatists who wanted greater autonomy with Russia. Whether the Georgian government assumed, or expected, NATO or the US to back them who knows. They didn’t, and had never agreed to any such idea. Russia took over great swathes of the country. Effectively pushing all Georgian troops out of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and declaring the regions independent states.

Although the US has voiced the possibility of supplying heavier arms to Ukraine, it has never considered getting involved in a boots-on-the-ground war. Yet without this backing, heavier weapons or not, Ukraine would stand no chance against the much larger, better trained army that Russia now has.    

Will more Sanctions Work:

Whether more sanctions make any difference depends very much on what they target, rather than whom. The American Secretary of State John Kerry, and UK’s Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, have been meeting in London to discuss a new round of sanctions against Russia.

Currently though, things seem in limbo. Some areas of conflict in Ukraine appear to be abiding by the ceasefire, while in others shelling can still be heard. The Russian Foreign Secretary of course, says the West should be concentrating on solving the problems in the Ukraine, rather than continuing with sanctions. And again, there is much truth in this.

Supplying more heavy weapons to the Ukraine will undoubtedly escalate the conflict. Sanctions which continue to undermine the rouble seem to be the only option. Hopefully, a heavily squeezed Russian economy, will get Putin to agree to a negotiated settlement, while telling those at home he has achieved his aims as a peacemaker.??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

There is, at least for the moment, an uneasy ceasefire along Ukraine’s eastern border. Much more was agreed to bring the current hostilities to a halt. These now need to be implemented by all sides in an attempt to maintain this ceasefire. Pressure from Russia on the separatists; and pressure from the EU and US on Ukraine.  

With another meeting scheduled between all parties, perhaps the US and EU, need to start asking Russia what they want out of this, and approach it from that angle. Accept the fact they made a massive miscalculation, and try to mend fences. While the EU and UK undoubtedly played a big part in starting this conflict, it is now time they played a bigger part in trying to resolve it.

Images care of: By Mstyslav Chernov/Unframe/ (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

By Ferran Cornellà (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL, via Wikimedia Commons

By Sasha Maksymenko (IMG_8794) [CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

By Sasha Maksymenko (IMG_8624) [CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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