Russia’s strategy of destabilization followed rapidly by concession in regards to pivotal matters in the Ukrainian Crisis came to life once again over the weekend. On the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, activity was ramping up on two fronts as Russian overtures and efforts for a new ceasefire clashed with orders from Moscow which have the appearance of being a potential stepping stone towards the first formal diplomatic recognition of the Donetsk People’s Republic and its sister breakaway republics in eastern Ukraine.
On Saturday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced his country will begin temporarily recognizing passport and ID documents issued by the self-proclaimed republics in eastern Ukraine. The decision caused near-immediate backlash from Kiev and beyond. Ukrainian President Poroshenko condemned Russia’s action while other members of the Ukrainian government reacted angrily with a consensus growing that this move is contradictory to the spirit of the Minsk Agreements and will undermine any future ceasefires.
On that note, a new ceasefire was agreed upon by the Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers with assistance from their French and German counterparts. The latest ceasefire goes into effect on 20 February, 2017, which means that the ceasefire is technically in effect right now. The core of this ceasefire attempt will be the withdrawal of heavy arms from eastern Ukraine. The move was negotiated in the first Minsk Agreement two years ago, but never implemented. Along with the withdrawal of heavy arms, this ceasefire promises the withdrawal of foreign troops, local elections and the reestablishment of Ukrainian control of its eastern border. These are also elements which were negotiated as part of the Minsk agreement. Including them in this ceasefire draft offers the impression that the Russians might possibly be serious about implementing measures that will end the fighting in eastern Ukraine permanently.
Ukraine promises to be a regular headline for the near-future.