The senselessness ceasefire and the case of arming in the Ukraine
“Of course, it’s always bad to lose,” Putin told reporters. “Of course it’s always a hardship when you lose to yesterday’s miners or yesterday’s tractor drivers. But life is life. It’ll surely go on.”
One can easily imagine the smug smirk Putin wore when he commented on the Ukrainian withdrawal of forces out of Debaltseve, a central railway station.
Debaltseve represents one of the many conflicts between two opposing forces contesting for its control. This fierce battle between Pro-Russian forces and Ukrainian troops raged on three days after the proposed ceasefire.
As reported by BBC News, agreements of the ceasefire included:
– Ceasefire to begin at 12:01 a.m. local time Feb. 15
– Heavy weapons to be withdrawn beginning Feb. 16 and completed in two weeks
– All prisoners to be released and amnesty for those involved in fighting
– Withdrawal of all foreign troops and weapons from Ukrainian territory. Disarmament of all illegal groups
– Ukraine to allow resumption of normal life in rebel areas, by lifting restrictions
– Constitutional reform to enable decentralization for rebel regions by the end of 2015
– Ukraine to control border with Russia if conditions are met by the end of 2015
After a year of intense exchanges of fire, leaders around the world praised the ceasefire as it offered a glimmer of hope to restoring peace in the war-torn region. This peace lasted for about two hours.
Within two hours of the countries implementing the ceasefire, both Russia and Ukraine began throwing accusations that the other violated the agreements. Ukrainian Security Services Chief Valentyn Nalyvaichenko announced that artillery salvoes were fired by Cossack Unit manned by Russian citizen. Whereas, Pro-Russian rebels accuse Ukrainians of deploying artillery after the ceasefire began.
However, the boldest move that Putin made lies in the initial proposal of a ceasefire. Ukrainian forces and U.S. intelligence repeatedly connected Russia to resupplying the separatist groups, which Putin repeatedly denied. Yet, he called for peace talks to settle a conflict that he supposedly held no involvement in. And once the two contesting forces implemented the ceasefire, the Russian military was deployed into Ukrainian.
United States State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement Saturday, “We are confident that these are Russian military, not separatist systems.”
The U.S. State Department said images of Eastern Ukraine illustrate credible evidence of the Russian military sending large supplies of artillery and rocket launchers.
While Washington experiences a growing bipartisan call to arm Ukraine, President Obama remains hesitant.
The conflict represents a unique situation with contentious debate and conviction from both sides arguing that their plan leads to a more stable solution. One side hopes that diplomatic means will reduce the bloodshed in Ukraine, as argued by several European countries. The other side contends that the West must lend weaponry to the country as a means for them to defend themselves, as argued by both Republicans and Democrats.
But the path to peace, whether by arming Ukraine or pursuing diplomatic solutions, is far more complicated than simply choosing one or the other.
Putin’s ambitions to recreate Russia’s regional dominance never lied in secrecy. Many proponents of pursuing diplomatic means argue that Western aid of weaponry, defensive or otherwise, would give Putin a reason to send an army into Ukraine because it may appear to be an indirect threat to Russia. Yet many people advocate arming Ukraine because whatever moves the West has made, such as sanctions on Russia or non-lethal support to Ukraine, Putin has relentlessly committed more troops, advisors, and arms since the annexation of Crimea.
Spending barely over 1 percent of the country’s GDP, Ukraine’s neglected military has frighteningly low chances against Russia’s formidable forces. While a standing army of 150,000 will put up a fight against Pro-Russian rebels and Russian troops, the U.S. should assist Ukrainian troops. In order to avoid antagonizing Putin, the U.S. should supply more non-lethal support: body armor, radios, Humvees, radars and food.
Currently, the U.S. continues to pursue a diplomatic route toward peace.
“I have no doubt that additional assistance of economic kind and other kinds will be going to Ukraine,” Kerry said in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “We do so understanding that there is no military solution. The solution is a political, diplomatic one.”
While the U.S. assists Ukraine in nonmilitary means, critical towns like Debaltseve steadily fall to separatists. The Budapest Memorandum states that the U.S., United Kingdom, and Canada would guarantee security assurances to Ukraine if their sovereignty and territorial integrity were threatened. Putin argued that the memorandum doesn’t apply to the Crimea crisis and the current one.
For now, we hope that a political answer to the chaos in Ukraine leads to peace. But hope is not a strategy and hope holds no guarantees and no promises. In 2014, Putin said in a broadcast on Russian television, “I very much hope that in the near future we will have a final ceasefire agreement.”
As the conflict persists in a maddening frenzy, the events in Eastern Ukraine remain an unpredictable war-torn zone.