Saturday, September 6, 2014

Ukraine/Russia/NATO: Most Observers Believe that Cease-Fire Will Be Short-Lived

According to Reuters, an uneasy calm prevailed in eastern Ukraine on Saturday (September 6) after Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists signed a ceasefire as part of a drive to end a war that has triggered a deep crisis in relations between Russia and the West.
The peace roadmap, approved by envoys in Minsk on Friday (September 5), includes the exchange of prisoners-of-war. A separatist leader said this process would begin later on Saturday, though the Ukrainians said details were still being worked out.
The two sides remain far apart on the future status of the rebel-held areas in eastern Ukraine and both residents and combatants said they did not expect the ceasefire to last long, but there were no reports of serious violations on Saturday.
"The forces of the anti-terrorist operation support the cease-fire and are closely observing the order of the commander-in-chief," the spokesman for Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council, Andriy Lysenko, told a daily briefing in Kiev.
In rebel-held Donetsk, the region's industrial hub with a pre-war population of about one million, separatist commanders said they did not believe the five-month war was over.
COMMENT: Lysenko spoke after attending the two-day NATO Summit in Wales. President Barack Obama also said he did not expect the cease-fire to hold.
The European Union (EU) announced new economic sanctions against Russia late on Friday over its role in Ukraine, but said they could be suspended if Moscow withdraws its troops and observes the conditions of the ceasefire.
Russia's Foreign Ministry responded angrily on Saturday to the measures, pledging unspecified "reaction" if they were implemented. Moscow responded to a previous round of US and EU sanctions by banning most Western food imports.
The prime minister of the rebels' self-proclaimed "Donetsk People's Republic," Alexander Zakharchenko, said his side would hand over its POWs to Ukraine on Saturday.
View photos
Before the ceasefire, fighting had raged for days on the outskirts of Donetsk, especially near the airport, which remains in government hands, and also around the port of Mariupol on the Sea of Azov, where government forces have been trying to repel a major rebel offensive Kiev says was backed by Russian troops.
All was quiet on Saturday in and around Mariupol, whose port is crucial for Ukraine's steel exports.
In Donetsk, some residents complained of sporadic shelling overnight.
"This war will go on for five to nine years. Slavs are killing Slavs, there can be nothing worse than that."
View photosObama said he was sceptical that the separatists in eastern Ukraine would deliver on their ceasefire obligations.
The European Union announced new economic sanctions against Russia late on Friday over its role in Ukraine but said they could be suspended if Moscow withdraws its troops and observes the conditions of the ceasefire.
Russia's foreign ministry responded angrily on Saturday to the measures, pledging unspecified "reaction" if they were implemented. Moscow responded to a previous round of U.S. and EU sanctions by banning most Western food imports.
The prime minister of the rebels' self-proclaimed "Donetsk People's Republic," Alexander Zakharchenko, said his side would hand over its POWs to Ukraine on Saturday.
eastern Europe in response to the Ukraine crisis."I am sure that Ukraine as a state and I as leader of that state are doing everything possible to achieve peace in our country," Poroshenko said in an interview for the BBC's 'Hard Talk' programme broadcast late on Friday.

t its defences in eastern Europe in response to the Ukraine crisis."I am sure that Ukraine as a state and I as leader of that state are doing everything possible to achieve peace in our country," Poroshenko said in an interview for the BBC's 'Hard Talk' programme broadcast late on Friday.