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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2731

Uneasy ceasefire in Ukraine!

By Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal

The guns in Ukraine fell silent early on the 15th February morning as a ceasefire agreement among four nations, France, Russia, Ukraine and Germany, came into effect . The agreement was reached following talks in the Belarus capital Minsk, led by France and Germany.

The efforts by France and Germany to somehow bring an end to the conflict have shown some results with the ceasefire agreement signed. But the ceasefire seems to be fragile in nature.

There prevails a sort of uneasy ceasefire in Ukraine even as both sides target each other for future attacks. However, the ceasefire in Ukraine appears to be holding despite occasional shelling and gunfire close to a flashpoint town in the country's east. Artillery and mortar fire has been heard around Debaltseve, a strategically important town on the frontline of the fight between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian separatists. Pro-Russian rebels indicated that they would not observe the truce at Debaltseve, where Ukrainian forces have been largely surrounded. Senior rebel commander Eduard Basurin said: "Of course we can open fire (on Debaltseve). It is our territory."

A statement released by Ukrainian government in Kiev said the "enemy" was carrying out attacks in the region using Grad rockets. It said the military had a plan to try to re-take control of Debaltseve.

In Paris, French President Francois Hollande declared that observance of the ceasefire was "generally satisfactory" despite some "local incidents". Hollande spoke to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in a four-way phone call with the leaders of Germany and Russia on Sunday.

Poroshenko emphasized in the call that the ceasefire should be implemented all along the frontline, "including the area of Debaltseve," according to a statement from his office.

The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which is responsible for monitoring the ceasefire, said the rebels had denied observers’ access to Debaltseve. The town sits astride a railway junction in a pocket of territory between the two main rebel strongholds of Donetsk and Luhansk.

In the main rebel centre, Donetsk, artillery fire was reported every few seconds in the hours before the ceasefire, but halted at midnight local time. The ceasefire, negotiated in all-night talks involving Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany on Thursday, preludes the creation of a buffer zone and the withdrawal of heavy weapons.

The United Nations Security Council has so far failed to adopt a resolution calling on all parties to implement the ceasefire deal, despite a frenzy of diplomatic activity. This failure is likely to make the ceasefire less operative and more problematic. The body's 15 UNSC members had been due to vote on a Russian-drafted resolution but some of the members, like Malaysia, wanted further discussion over the wording. USA or Russia can complicate ceasefire conditions if any one of the two uses its veto.

More than 5,000 people have been killed in the conflict that has led to sanctions against Russia, which the West accuses of transporting weapons and troops into Ukraine - a claim Russia denies. USA continues to threaten to supply arms to Ukraine to weaken the Kremlin’s effort to support Russian rebels. But the war specialists in Washington argue if Washington adds more weapons to Ukrainian arsenals, Russia is capable to escalating the trouble for Ukraine for which Kiev is not ready.

One gets the impression that any time the ceasefire would be breached to let both sides resort to extreme violence.
Meanwhile, both sides have blamed the other for the firing.

- Asian Tribune -

Uneasy ceasefire in Ukraine! largely holding
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