hot spots

At this point Ukraine is not prepared to renew combat actions in the Donbas

At this point Ukraine is not prepared to renew combat actions in the Donbas
In Mariupol President Poroshenko showed confidence in the forces of the Army
Photo: Ukrainian photo

Yesterday the observers of the Organisation of Security and Cooperation of Europe (OSCE) stated that the cease fire regime was violated in the zone of the anti-terrorist operation (ATO). Ukraine’s leadership is trying to not dramatize the situation hoping that in the worst case scenario it will win some time to reinforce those positions that have been secured.

Not a war, but an exception

OSCE representatives informed that on September 7 they registered mortar firing of the village of Spartak, which is being controlled by the forces of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR). Mortars were shot from the territory of the Donetsk airport controlled by Ukrainian military forces.

The observers also registered a violation of the truce in the Luhansk oblast, where near the city of Shchastye Ukrainian soldiers were shot at by forces of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR). The latter reciprocated by opening fire on their attackers.

The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (NSDC) said firing at positions of the army and the National Guard has intensified and become more frequent. Head of the NSDC Information Analytical Center Andriy Lysenko informed at a briefing yesterday about the open firing on ten populated areas in the Donetsk oblast and five in the Luhansk oblast. “Ukrainian soldiers are fully observing the cease fire regime, but if their lives are under direct threat they open fire in retaliation and remain in the positions that they occupied last Friday prior to the signing of the agreement in Minsk,” Lysenko pointed out in his address.

As a reminder, the cease fire regime is one of the 12 clauses of the agreements concluded in Minsk on September 5 for de-escalation of the situation in the Donbas. The OSCE representatives must observe the compliance of the sides of the conflict with the cease fire regime under the conditions of the agreements. The agreements also envisage the exchange of captives and hostages, withdrawal of militants and mercenaries from the territory of Ukraine, approval of the program of economic revival of the Donbas and restoration of vital functions in the region.

The OSCE so far give modest assessments of the prospects of the announced truce. Yesterday OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Didier Burkhalter stated that suspending the combat actions is not enough and that both sides should seek a political solution to the conflict. On its part, the OSCE is doubling the number of its observers in the zone of military conflict with the aim of better monitoring of the events.

At the same time, second president of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma, who represented Ukraine at the talks in Minsk, says it is too early to speak about the failure of agreements reached and a new escalation of the conflict in the Donbas. “What does it mean that the war rages on? This is not war, but an exception to the rule. In times of war many dozens of people were killed every day. Today this is simply a violation of agreements. In the world there is not a single truce by which an agreement was signed and the next day there was peace,” Kuchma told Ukrinform. He believes that the agreements in Minsk were a breakthrough on the issue of peaceful settlement of the situation in the east of Ukraine, but further the parties should do their best to ensure the implementation of the document.

During his yesterday’s visit to Mariupol President Petro Poroshenko said one of the results of the truce was the release of Ukrainian soldiers held in captivity. “During the effect of the cease fire regime we managed to liberate 1,200 of our soldiers held in captivity,” Poroshenko said in his address to employees of the Mariupol Illyich Steelworks. He added that another 863 being held by separatists should be freed by the end of the week. Furthermore, the head of state made it clear that the truce could be discontinued at any moment. “We must be ready for gross violation of the cease fire regime,” Poroshenko underscored.

Benefits for Ukraine

Former minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Volodymyr Ohryzko believes that discontinuing the truce is not beneficial for the official Kyiv today. On the contrary, it must bide for time to reinforce its military groups in the Donbas. In his opinion, the separatists are interested in the severance of the Minsk agreements as they are counting on successful military actions. “Leaders of the terrorists are already interpreting the signing of the protocol in Minsk in their own way. They once again began speaking about some kind of independence of their territories. This could be a premise for severing the agreements,” Ohryzko told Capital.

Former head of the General Headquarters Anatoliy Lopata agrees with the ex-minister. “This is a temporary truce for the regrouping of forces by both sides of the conflict. The contradictions are too strong to remove them through one document,” he confirmed. According to his predictions, declaration of the martial law will once again become an issue for the president with the renewal of military actions. “This step will lead to better coordination of the actions of the army and the National Guard, which will finally begin fighting according to a unified plan, rather than discordantly,” Lopata presumes.

A new round of talks of the trilateral group Ukraine-Russia-OSCE with the participation of representatives of the DPR and the LPR is planned for tomorrow in Minsk. Former press secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Oleh Voloshyn presumes that the execution of other clauses of previously signed agreements will be discussed. “The cease fire regime, albeit with violations, and the exchange of soldiers in captivity created a certain discharge. Now the sides involved can discuss other issues of the Minsk protocol, for example, improvement of the humanitarian situation and defining the status of the Donbas,” Voloshin noted.

Meanwhile, the Minsk agreements have already incited the criticism of Ukrainian politicians of the “war party”. Indeed, ex-premier Yulia Tymoshenko called on Poroshenko to publicly report about the content of the signed documents and also change the leadership of the Ministry of Defense. Leader of the Radical party Oleh Lyashko described the Minsk agreements as “Poroshenko’s capitulation” and called for continuing the battle.

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