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Will the truce in Ukraine hold?

The most probable answer to this question, given what is known today, is yes. The Debaltseve battle is now over; Ukrainian troops have withdrawn and the separatists from the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) have established control over the territory.

The status of the Ukrainian troops near Debaltseve (whether they were surrounded by DPR’s forces or not) was one of the main points of disagreement during the Minsk II negotiations. As leaked to the media, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and his Russian colleague Vladimir Putin argued for over two hours at the beginning of the talks. Putin insisted that the Ukrainian forces had been surrounded whereas Poroshenko denied this. German Chancellor Merkel suggested that the issue be discussed later in order to further the negotiations. No agreement regarding the status of the Ukrainian troops was reached in Minsk and Putin emphasised this when speaking to the media immediately after the Minsk II ceasefire agreement had been signed. 

After the signing of the ceasefire agreement, the fighting in Debaltseve resumed. On 18 February the Ukrainian army announced its retreat from the village. In the three days from the beginning of the ceasefire on 15 February until 18 February the fighting in Debaltseve was the only major violation of the agreement registered by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). After 18 February the OSCE did not register any further major violations. On 20 February representatives of the DPR signed a document with a representative of the Ukrainian army on the withdrawal of heavy weapons as stipulated by the Minsk II agreement.

The following arguments seem to speak in favour of a lasting ceasefire:

 

25 February 2015

Integrica (c)

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