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20/02 – Russia rejects Ukraine’s plea for UN ceasefire oversight

As the protagonists of the Minsk agreement had a new round of telephone talks yesterday, and battles continued in various areas of East Ukraine, certain media wonder whether the Minsk II agreement is bound to fail, as the first Minsk agreement did.

In an editorial, Le Monde stresses that everything tends to show that Minsk II agreement will have a similar fate. In a commentary in Bild Zeitung, Julian Reichelt stresses that the “single argument” for the Minsk II summit – which was to avoid an escalation of war in Ukraine – has been shattered just like the Ukrainian city of Debaltseve. The “ceasefire” was in fact a “fire accelerant,” Mr Reichelt adds.

Truth is, Le Monde further reports, that both sides seem likely to find themselves in a long one-to-one armed fight. In the best-case scenario, the situation will resemble cold war; in the worst-case scenario, the two camps will continue, regularly, to wage war at each other. For the Occidental leaders, the Debaltseve’s conquest by the rebels represents a “wound” in the Minsk’s agreement, Diário Económico reports. According to EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Vice-President Federica Mogherini, the EU will do everything it can to ensure the fulfillment of the Minsk II agreement, Politiken writes.

Polish Internet portals, among others, quote a representative of EU Diplomacy, Maciej Popowski, announcing that the EU would send armoured vehicles and satellite pictures to Ukraine to monitor the implementation of the truce. Nevertheless, there are doubts as to sending troops within the frame of the suggested UN peace mission. “The EU needs more clarity regarding Poroshenko’s proposal before it sends any soldiers to Ukraine,” Mr Popowski said.

The Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchynov said UN peacekeepers should be deployed along the front line and rebel-controlled border sections with Russia, European media report. Mr Poroshenko made it clear that Russian troops could not be part of a UN peace mission, since Ukraine has “already enough of these peacemakers,” ARD notes. Russia, which has veto power in the UN Security Council, rejected Ukraine’s proposal, sources such as Magyar Nemzet and LRT Televizija report.

The sole idea that the UN Security Council might contemplate the deployment of a contingent of blue helmets in East Ukraine to assure a ceasefire prompted a vehement backlash from Russia, El Pais stresses. Vice-Chairperson of Die Linke Wolfgang Gehrcke likes the idea of sending a European peace mission to ensure the ceasefire in Ukraine, as he tells SWR. Regarding possible responses to the crisis, Telegraph writer David Blair argues that NATO must act quickly to prevent Vladimir Putin from pressing the advantage he has gained through his “hybrid warfare” against the Baltic states.

Russia acts as it does because it is certain that Western countries are unwilling to go to war over Ukraine, regular Independent columnist Rupert Cornwell claims. As to Latvian ambassador to the UK, Andris Teikmanis, who appeared on last night’s edition of Newsnight, he does not feel an “immediate” military threat from Russia, but is concerned about Russia’s actions and unpredictability when it comes to Eastern Europe.

In WSJE, Robert H Scales speculates on the US’s response to the crisis. He argues that the only adequate response at this stage is to counter Russian-armed separatists with long-range weapons and warns that a delay in sending the right weapons and training cadres will almost certainly result in defeat. US and EU security experts should consider how to strengthen Kiev’s defence capabilities, as the solution cannot be solely diplomatic as events have shown, Die Welt also reports.

As to Former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt, he advocates – as reported by Die Welt – for an intensive political dialogue with Moscow as well as continued economic sanctions on Russia. El Mundo‘s leader also believes that economic strangulation of Vladimir Putin’s Russia via sanctions that are more effective than those currently in force appears as the single possible way forward for the time being. The EU, reports, considers providing financial assistance worth €2.1 billion to Ukraine to help the country implement reforms, European Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy Johannes Hahn said at a meeting with Ukrainian President Poroshenko.

The EU also intends to continue developing cooperation with Russia, the EU Head of the Delegation to Russia Vygaudas Usackas announced on 19 February, reports. This will include allocating €100 million in funding for cross-border cooperation programmes over the next five years. These programmes focus on the Murmansk, Arkhangelsk and Nenets regions.©europeanunion2015

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