Article by: Tetyana Yarmoshchuk
A full ceasefire will be possible in Donbas in the nearest days, stated Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in his address to the people.
“We are counting on achieving a full ceasefire in the nearest days. After this happens, the creation of a buffer zone will begin. Both sides have to remove heavy weaponry to at least fifteen kilometers into the territories under their control. I hope the major part will leave Ukraine. As a consequence, a 30-kilometer security belt will be created. This will make it impossible for the mercenaries to fire at Donbas localities and will bring long-awaited peace to the civilians,” Poroshenko said on Sunday night.
Last Friday Poroshenko claimed he had made agreements with Russia, which would allow to regulate the situation in Donbas. However, the Ukrainian President did not go into detail as to what exactly he was talking about.
Meanwhile the NSDC confirms the beginning of the removal of Russian military units from the combat zone in Donbas, and concludes the lowering of the intensity of fire.
“Russian military units in Ukraine were in field camps and now we have noticed reverse movement, to return to their permanent location bases,” stated representative of the NSDC Information Center Andriy Lysenko.
“The removal of the regular units from the territory of Ukraine is a positive process, however this has no influence on the fact that mercenaries from field camps in Rostov-on-the-Don come to the territory of Ukraine though uncontrolled border areas,” Lysenko added.
However, according to the representative of the NSDC, the number of Russian mercenaries who infiltrate Ukraine is currently lower.
The removal of the Russian army as part of the (informal) Minsk agreements
When talking about the agreements with Russia, Petro Poroshenko probably meant the Minsk Agreements, said Ukrainian political expert Volodymyr Fesenko to Radio Liberty. And when he said that a full ceasefire is possible this week, Poroshenko expressed rather his hopes, thinks Fesenko. As to the removal of the Russian troops, this is also part of the Minsk Agreements, informal ones, the expert says.
“The Minsk Memorandum includes this point. There are formal points which were written, however there are informal ones as well. These agreements include the removal of the Russian army from our border,” the political expert notes.
The removal of troops is a certain gesture on part of Russian President Vladimir Putin on the eve of the meeting with Petro Poroshenko and world leaders in Milan, Volodymyr Fesenko says.
However, the expert emphasizes: “we shouldn’t relax, and we shouldn’t overestimate the significance of the retreat. It is Putin’s special tactic.”
Ukraine continues making agreements with mercenaries
Meanwhile new agreements between the Ukrainian government and the separatists were made. According to the newly-appointed head of the Donetsk Oblast State Administration Olexandr Kikhtenko, the new ceasefire agreement was signed by the deputy head of the General Headquarters Yury Dumsky and the leader of terrorist ‘DNR’ group Olexandr Zakharchenko. Kikhtenko stated that this agreement is being respected.
However, according to Olexandr Fesenko, the issue of the demarkation line for the creation of the buffer zone remains unsolved. This issue, according to him, may only be regulated at the presidential level.
The success of the meeting will depend on proximity to the NATO
The retreat of the Russian army from Ukraine means nothing, as, should Kyiv change its current course and begin moving towards the NATO, they may return at any moment. This opinion was expressed by Russian political expert Stanislav Belkovsky. At the moment Vladimir Putin demonstrates ‘a gesture of good will’ by removing the army, as he fancies himself the victor, the experts says.
“He thinks that he was able to force Ukraine to acknowledge the ‘DNR’ and ‘LNR’ as subjects of the meeting, which Ukraine refused to do categorically two months ago, that he forced the Verkhovna Rada to approve the law on the ‘special status’ of some Donbas regions,” Belkovsky says. “At that closed session of the Ukrainian Parliament, where this law was passed, Poroshenko argued for the approval of this law citing Putin’s position and that of Moscow. He convinced the members of the Parliament, that should this law fail to pass immediately, Putin will be able to invade Ukraine. Which means that blackmail using big war is successful.”
Expert: Putin’s pressure was successful
According to Stanislav Belkovsky, even Putin’s pressure on the U.S. regarding Ukraine was successful, as Ukraine did not get lethal weaponry nor ally status outside of the NATO, which Petro Poroshenko asked for in Washington.
As such, Belkovsky thinks, Putin will go further, and the agreements Poroshenko is talking about cannot be viewed as final.
“Moscow is now interested in having such a conversational partner as Petro Poroshenko, and allow him to save face before the parliamentary elections, and to allow Petro Poroshenko’s block to gain the majority in the Verkhovna Rada, which will ensure the stability of the meeting format between Russia and Ukraine. Ukraine agreed to Russia’s conditions because Petro Poroshenko hopes he will be able to reach certain agreements with Vladimir Putin. But we have to understand very well what Putin wants,” Stanislav Belkovsky noted and added that Putin’s goal is to retain Ukraine’s non-block status and guarantee the support of Crimea and Transnistria.