Since the fighting erupted in April last year, Russian and Ukrainian forces have reportedly called a ceasefire on the territorial fighting that has since cost over 5,486 lives. After extensive talks held last week in Minsk, with other European leaders present including Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande, the two sides have appeared to come to an agreement.
Yet the agreement described as a “preliminary protocol” by the Ukrainian President, have obviously not been successful and the agreement has since unravelled.
Since the agreement was signed, both government troops and pro-Russian rebels have continued heavy fighting, dishonouring the truce. The most recent tussle in the Russian-Ukrainian saga is around the town of Debaltseve, where pro-Russian rebels now say they control most areas. These events surrounding Debaltseve have broken the truce agreement. According to journalists placed inside Ukraine, as well as a Ukrainian military spokesman, pro-Russian rebels have continued to fight for, and advance upon, the town. The town takeover involved intense street fighting; meaning it strictly breaks the terms of the treaty.
Yet to many it was a surprise that a treaty could have been signed at all. Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly wanted to delay the signing of a ceasefire by 10 days in order to allow Russian troops to advance on, and capture, the town of Debaltseve. Despite his unsuccessful attempt at the motion, he later openly insisted that Ukrainian troops “should expect to lay down their arms and cease resistance.”
Such a statement after extensive peace talks have angered many diplomats, most notably the US Ambassador, Samantha Power. Despite welcoming the agreement, she made remarks that Russia deemed to be “offensive”, in declaring that Mr Putin had to prove his commitment to peace. “Stop arming the separatists”, she pleaded, “Stop sending hundreds of heavy weapons across the border in addition to your troops. Stop pretending you are not doing what you are doing.” She continued, “Russia signs agreements then does everything within its power to undermine them. Russia champions the sovereignty of nations and then acts as if a neighbour’s borders do not exist.”
Despite the controversy of her statement, many would agree with the contradictory and tactical role that Russia has played in the several peace talks and agreements held throughout the territorial crisis.
No matter what the length world politicians seem to go to, Russia voluntarily forces itself into a political limp – complicating the situation and delaying peace reforms.
Treaty or no treaty, differences will never be settled and fighting will continue, leaving the two countries, as Ukrainian Prime Minister Petrov Poroshenko stated, “a very long way from peace.”