After initial peace talks in September of 2014 failed to calm the fighting in Eastern Ukraine, negotiations once again commenced in Minsk last Wednesday. According to reports from the BCC, the 16-hour talks address these following key issues:
- Immediate and full bilateral ceasefire
- Withdrawal of all heavy weapons by both sides
- Effective monitoring and verification regime for the ceasefire and withdrawal of heavy weapons
- From day one of the withdrawal begin a dialogue on the holding of local elections
- Pardon and amnesty by banning any prosecution of figures involved in the Donetsk and Luhansk conflict
- Release of all hostages and other illegally detained people
- Unimpeded delivery of humanitarian aid to the needy, internationally supervised
- Restoration of full social and economic links with affected areas
- Full Ukrainian government control will be restored over the state border, throughout the conflict zone
- Withdrawal of all foreign armed groups, weapons and mercenaries from Ukrainian territory
- Constitutional reform in Ukraine, with adoption of a new constitution by the end of 2015
Since the failed negotiation of September, separatist forces continue to show a strong presence in Eastern Ukraine. Their forces remain resilient in the cities of Shakhtarsk and Donetsk, as shown in Figure 1. However, struggle for control over the city of Debaltseve, “a strategically located railroad hub in the East,” continues to promote tension between separatist forces and Ukrainian nationalists (CNN).
It has been less than two days since the peace deal was said to have gone into effect, but already there are reports of multiple violations. According to a report from Reuters.com, Ukrainian rebels disavow the most recent peace treaty.
“Of course we can open fire (on Debaltseve). It is our territory,” senior rebel commander Eduard Basurin told Reuters. “The territory is internal: ours. And internal is internal. But along the line of confrontation there is no shooting.”
CNN has reported that there have been, “at least 129 violations of the ceasefire,” as of this morning’s report. This led to the death of five members of the Ukrainian security force and injured 25 others. Today was also the target date for removal of heavy weaponry, which still has not been realized.
The momentary glimmer of hope for peace is quickly beginning to fade. With both sides skeptical of one another, the de-escalation of weaponry may be harder to accomplish than first supposed. Agreements made between diplomatic leaders in Minsk seem to be having little influence over action taken on the front line. With one peace deal down the drain, and another spiraling close behind, it is clear that much room for progress still remains.
Header Image: http://america.aljazeera.com/