The meeting of the leaders of Germany, France, Russia, Ukraine and the representatives of the Russian insurgents in Eastern Ukraine took place in Minsk, Belarus on Thursday. This was the second such meeting to try to arrange a ceasefire and a solution to the problem, that has now become a full-scale war. It is reported that there have been 4,500 civilian casualties (but since they are not Palestinians the media don’t seem to care; what about disproportionate force and shelling of houses?) Anyway it does not seem that the current agreement will be any more successful than the previous agreement of a year ago. That ceasefire was never really implemented.
The current agreement calls for both sides, the Ukrainian Army and the Russian insurgents to honor a ceasefire starting Sunday night, to pull their heavy weapons back to previous positions and to engage in constructive negotiations toward a solution to the problem. The best option proposed is for the Russian Eastern region of Ukraine to be given more local autonomy. But, this will probably not satisfy them, particularly since they have made military progress in expanding and consolidating their position. Also, they deny that they have Russian heavy equipment, so how can they pull back what they don’t have? Finally, not all of the Russian insurgent groups were either represented at the talks or agreed to the talks anyway, so the chances of success for this agreement are slim. Prior to the implementation of the ceasefire fighting has escalated in the region.
The French and German representatives talked up the success of the meeting, while Pres. Putin was relatively non-committal. He sees the weakness in the other side, he thinks he can withstand the sanctions and is simply biding time before the next round of fighting. In the end, unless there is really strong military support for Ukraine the die is cast. Russia will gobble up another slice of Ukraine and then will turn its gaze elsewhere. Putin is engaged in a high stakes game to re-expand Russia to take back some of the territory that was lost of the Soviet Union and before that the Tsarist State.