Friday, February 13, 2015

Ceasefire for Our Time?

After making some incremental gains, Putin has consented to a ceasefire in Donbas to lock those gains in place. We'll see if it lasts as long as the last ceasefire.

So what do we have?


That will probably happen. For a while and until Putin can see if his latest battlefield success yields a satisfactory political result. If not, he'll restart the war at his convenience. In the short run, the question is whether the Russians take Debaltseve before the ceasefire starts.


We'll see. Russia cheated before. And Russia can provide fire support from inside Russia, too, in many cases.

While no peacekeepers can monitor this, learning the lesson of Abhkazia and South Ossetia, Ukraine doesn't want anybody that can be Russia's open proxy.


We think this means Russia's imported fighters. But Russia denies it and insists Ukraine has the foreign (NATO!) fighters in Donbas.


This should be the easiest thing to do. But remember Russia kept German prisoners after World War II for a decade. So who knows?


Ukraine thinks this is a win, but we'll see if Putin's ability to cheat and intimidate is good enough to subvert Ukrainian law and outside observers.


Ukraine doesn't get it in Donbas until Donbas gets extensive autonomy and the ability to create their own self-defense force that Russia will attempt to control. Perhaps Ukraine can send in their own people to enlist in this force and run it. Maybe we help screen and train it?


Ukraine will have to pay for the Donbas region, including resuming paychecks and pensions to those who live there. While called a win for Russia, since Russia doesn't have to pay; perhaps having even residents sympathetic to Russia get their paychecks from Kiev will have a soothing effect on these people and keep them from wanting to secede and join Russia.

But hey, if the war is over, Russia should have no objection to us arming the Ukrainians, eh?

Rejoice! With our peace partner Putin we have peace ceasefire for our time!

UPDATE: Perhaps the people of Donbas should consider that Russians seem to like the idea of Crimea being part of Russia more than they like the idea of Crimeans being Russian.

But I'm sure the Russians will just love the people of Donbas. Right?

UPDATE: Europe has a warning for Russia:

European powers warned Russia it risked fresh sanctions if a ceasefire deal aimed at ending the 10-month war between Ukraine troops and pro-Moscow rebels was not implemented.

Perhaps if Europe has a better record over Russia's 2008 aggression, I'd think this warning might make Putin lose a little sleep.

And even if this works, Russia has part of Donbas, all of Crimea, and has gotten away with their (indirect) role in shooting down a Malaysian airliner.

UPDATE: Putin wanted to delay the ceasefire to give his hand puppets a week and a half to capture Debaltseve:

Witnesses to the discussion said all the EU leaders were sceptical about the success of the Minsk peace plan, not least because Putin had resisted pressure for a ceasefire. He hoped to delay the truce by 10 days, the summit heard, in order to force the surrender of up to 8,000 Ukrainian troops who are surrounded in Debaltseve by pro-Russia separatists.

Putin was said to have made it clear that Debaltseve had to fall. In public remarks following the deal, Putin also said the separatists had the Ukrainian forces encircled and that “of course, they expect [the Ukrainians] to lay down their arms and cease resistance”.


UPDATE: Putin's forces are pushing hard to at least isolate Debaltseve:

The fiercest confrontations focused on the government-held town of Debaltseve, a key transport center that has been on the receiving end of dozens of artillery and rocket salvos in the 24-hour period after the peace deal was sealed Thursday by the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France.

Associated Press reporters observed intense shelling Friday along the highway north of Debaltseve, which remains the town's only land link with the rest of government-controlled territory.

"Trust, but verify" has returned as wise advice for dealing with Moscow.

UPDATE: Ah, those effing Russians:

The United States released satellite images on Saturday meant to bolster its case that Russia has joined separatists in an all-out assault on the Ukrainian Army during the window before a midnight cease-fire is to take effect.

The Russians aren't to be trusted.