By Russkiy Malchik
Translated from Russian by J.Hawk
The situation is developing rapidly, as Poroshenko immediately after his “victory” at Debaltsevo came out with the following initiative: to invite an EU police mission to Ukraine with a UN peacekeeping mandate, and to conduct multinational military exercises. He immediately warned that he discussed these decisions in Minsk with Russia, France, and Germany. It’s understandable why—you need the consent of all UNSC permanent members to pull it off.
This is unquestionably a big deal, because it can mean only one thing: Russia together with Europe and Poroshenko agreed to a de-facto partitioning of Ukraine into spheres of influence which will be controlled by military personnel with peacekeeping functions. It’s self-evident that the Donbass will accept only Russians, Belarusians, and forces from countries covered by the Treaty on Collective Security. At the same time Kiev will only accept EU troops. Here one has to be certain we are talking about EU troops (EUROFOR, which has acted as an independent force in several conflicts), and not about NATO troops or, especially, US troops. This is an important consideration, because Poroshenko and Washington may try to pull a fast one, so one needs to be careful.
When it comes down to it, Poroshenko and the West are proposing to partition Ukraine along the current border with LPR and DPR, so as to avoid losing even more territory in the event of a war. I don’t know whether this is an appropriate choice at the moment, since the size of Novorossia is far from optimal. But everything depends on the chosen strategy: either continue to strangle the junta, using the ceasefire to strengthen own forces and to create new cauldrons (in that case one cannot agree to peacekeepers), or to pick the option of peaceful economic strangulation of the Kiev regime, which can’t be too far off (and then introduce peacekeepers to freeze the situation before a direct conflict with the West). Here there are many things to talk about. But perhaps this is what they spent 16 hours discussing in Minsk?
J.Hawk’s Comment: Considering how sparse the ceasefire provisions were, it’s highly likely that there was a sphere of influence discussion held in Minsk. No way it took 16 hours to hammer out the "packet of measures" that everyone promptly ignored! However, all three world leaders present there are interested in defusing the situation. What Poroshenko thinks is immaterial—Russia, Germany, and France collectively hold Ukraine’s future in their hands, whereas Washington does not. Moreover, Putin did mention peacekeepers as being desirable in this situation, but he also mentioned the administrative borders of Donetsk and Lugansk regions, while the Minsk-2 agreement did not specify any boundaries of Novorossia. So there are many details still to be hammered out.
It was reported elsewhere that the call for peacekeepers was also issued by the Council of National Defense and Security, which is headed by Aleksandr Turchinov. Martial law does not seem to be in the cards, and Ukraine finally appears to be heading toward de-escalation of the conflict. We’ll see if the trend holds. One thing seems relatively certain: neither Merkel nor Hollande would want to see a provocative NATO force in Ukraine, which means the more benign EUROFOR does appear to be the more likely candidate for the mission. Should they be deployed, one wonders what their experience with the Right Sector and the "volunteer battalions" is going to be, seeing that the West had "betrayed" Ukraine in its "civilizational struggle" against Russia...