Immediately after the 4-player Ukraine accord announcement yesterday (See Ukraine Talks End in Accord; What About the Key Missing Player?) I commented …
Lots of Questions
This accord raises more questions than answers.
- Did anyone consult the separatists?
- Who is going to enforce the agreement?
- Is there a single voice, or even a small group of voices who can speak for the separatists?
If the separatists are acting on their own, then unless Russia or someone else can convince the separatists to lay down their arms, the accord may break down.
Separatists are the key players in this crisis, but it does not appear they were even invited to the table.
Ukraine Accord Broken Already
Here we are, one day later and the Financial Times reports Ukraine: The ‘War Without War’ that Rumbles On
In Geneva on Thursday the US, the EU, Russia and Ukraine agreed steps aimed at reducing the tensions. But that agreement is already in danger of unravelling as separatists in the big eastern city of Donetsk refuse to evacuate their headquarters. Any violence risks creating the pretext for a Russian invasion.
While the government in Kiev and much of the west stresses its desire to integrate with Europe, the east remains firmly anchored to Russia by language, culture and history. Many companies are also oriented eastward, above all those working in its Soviet-era agricultural, metallurgy, pipe-making and defence industries – all of strategic importance to Moscow.
“The Russian market is very important, especially for the older, heritage economy,” says Gennadiy Chyzhykov, president of the Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce, who is from Donetsk, now capital of the self-styled “republic” where activists claim to lead the anti-Kiev protests. “We export mainly raw materials and semi-finished goods to Europe, but finished goods, including sweets, to Russia. They share our tastes.”
Read that last paragraph above closely. Most of the people in Eastern Ukraine lean towards Russia.
Banning Russian broadcasts, or even forceful military action cannot change that sentiment. Indeed, it can only strengthen it.
Geneva Agreement Does Little to Counter Russian Military Threat
Analysts said the fact that US, EU, Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers managed to agree on a document at all was positive, at a meeting for which expectations had been low.
They agreed illegal armed groups should hand over their weapons, Ukraine should undertake reforms to give more powers to its regions, and a monitoring mission from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe would be stepped up.
But several steps are difficult to implement, or provide no guarantee that the situation in eastern Ukraine could not escalate. “The wording of the agreement is fine, but when I saw it I immediately thought, how can this actually happen?” said Oleksiy Haran, a Kiev-based political scientist who was visiting Donetsk on Friday.
Most importantly, Russia made no commitment to pull back thousands of troops it has massed on Ukraine’s border. The groups which must agree to hand over their weapons, moreover, were not directly represented in Geneva.
Please note the extreme hubris of the four parties that agreed to a solution without consulting the views, wishes, and demands of the key group: the separatists.
Addendum: Russia Moves Troops Back to Ukraine Border
Russia confirms that it moved troops back into the border area with Ukraine, according to this link I picked up from ZeroHedge: Russia confirms troops deployed near Ukraine
A Kremlin spokesman confirmed Friday that Russia has built up its military presence on the Ukrainian border, Agence France Presse reported, as the United States warned that Moscow would face tougher sanctions if it failed to abide by a new international deal on Ukraine.
“We have troops in different regions, and there are troops close to the Ukrainian border. Some are based there, others have been sent as reinforcements due to the situation in Ukraine,” spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Rossiya 1 television, AFP reported.
In Washington, Susan Rice, President Barack Obama’s national security adviser, was quoted by Reuters as saying that Moscow would face tougher sanctions if it failed to abide by a deal arrived in Geneva a day earlier that held the hope of defusing the stand-off in Ukraine.
She warned Moscow would also face sanctions if it moved to send Russian forces into eastern Ukraine. “Those costs and sanctions could include targeting very significant sectors of the Russian economy,” Rice told reporters.
Earlier Friday, armed pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine said they were not bound by the conditions of the international deal until the government in Kiev government quit.
Denis Pushilin, the head of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic, was quoted by Reuters as telling journalists in the regional capital Donetsk that Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov “did not sign anything for us, he signed on behalf of the Russian Federation.”
Mike “Mish” Shedlock