‘Ukraine ceasefire deal is only first step. Now its enforcement is question’

Russia's President Vladimir Putin (L, front), Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko (2nd R, front), Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel (R, front) and France's President Francois Hollande (2nd L, front) walk during peace talks in Minsk, February 11, 2015.(Reuters / Vasily Fedosenko)


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The Ukrainian ceasefire deal reached during the Minsk talks is only a weak beginning, 10 percent of a path to long-term peace, says Jan Oberg, Director of Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research. If it fails, it might lead to disaster.

RT: Do the results of the negotiations give
grounds to speak about a lasting peace in Ukraine?

Jan Oberg: I wish I could say yes. I think it’s
very good they have met; they are basically confirming what they
have tried to do before. And every time you meet and you don’t
split it’s a good thing. It may be building trust over time. But
this is only a very weak beginning. I’ll tell you a ceasefire is
just a beginning and the question is how it will be enforced if
somebody breaks it in the future, and I’ve argued for United
Nations troops to get into the place. And nobody seems to have it
on the agenda.

Secondly I might say…it’s not professional and not a very
conducive to peace the way in which they met. You meet at 9
o’clock in the evening, you’d sit all night, you’re dead
exhausted, you already have had a very tough travel schedule, you
meet at a huge palace, in a huge room where you can have no
personal contacts. This whole thing is not set up the way a
peacemaker, a mediator, would do it. I would meet far away in the
countryside without the press; I would have informality,
unlimited time to reach a result and etc. But under these
circumstances, let’s be hopeful.

Ukraine peace deal: Ceasefire starting February 15, removal of
heavy weapons

RT: The talks started yesterday and continued
throughout the night. Why do you think they lasted so long?

JO: It’s not a long time. The whole personal
thing, you could see from the body language that there is a lot
of animosity in the room. And one cannot blame anyone for feeling
bad about what has happened all ways and all directions.
Secondly, it’s a hugely complex problem to deal with. And they
did not as far as I could see have many advisors behind them. So
I guess there have been a lot of consultations, long telephone
calls. I would say it’s rather amazing I didn’t take a longer
time. But I also say a ceasefire is only the first step. Now the
question is enforcement of it. And third, the long-term peace –
and we are not even beginning to talk about the peace in the
sense of a stable solution, reconstruction of the area in such a
way that everybody can live with it in the future. We have that
first 10 percent of a long process. And if you do 10 percent in
17 hours, it’s not that bad.

RT: The Ukrainian president left the negotiating
room on several occasions. One time he was said to be speaking to
his military commanders. What do you make of these reports?

JO: I think both President Putin and President
Poroshenko have argued that they have to have their military
officers cooperating on finding out what is going on in what they
call the encirclement which I don’t know the details about. But
there is no way in which you can solve this without military
cooperation between the parties when you are doing a
demilitarized zone. My worry is: who is going to secure that
demilitarized zone, is it demilitarized forever or at least until
there is a stable peace. And if you took Iraq and Kuwait, there
was a huge demilitarized zone monitored by the United Nations.
This cannot be done by the parties themselves. It can only be
done by a neutral third party who can go in and stop the first
person who shoots a revolver, because that’s what could be like a
new war again. And that’s what I’m worried about. There is no
implementation or enforcement possibility, and the parties might
blame each other in the future if it falls apart again. If it
falls apart again I think we will have a full war, because two
failed ceasefires without a peace agreement is a recipe for

Emmanuel Quidet from French-Russian Chamber of Trade and
Industry spoke to RT

‘Normandy 4’ Ukraine peace talks in Minsk LIVE UPDATES

Reuters / Maxim Shemetov

‘Situation changed, ceasefire is in Kiev’s best interest’

Neil Clark, journalist and broadcaster says the renewed ceasefire
will be held better than the previous one as now the Ukrainian
authorities are keen to have it.

RT: Putin accused Kiev of reluctance to deal
with the representatives of the self-proclaimed republics. How
crucial is it to get the two sides directly talking to each

Neil Clark: I think, it is very important but
obviously the news coming out so far has been quite positive
about the ceasefire agreement. It is interesting though to
monitor what the hawks are saying in the West. It is quite clear
that they don’t want to be an agreement here – they want to keep
this crisis going.

It is a great opportunity here for the European leadership,
Hollande and Merkel, to show that they are standing up for
European interests here. It is in the interest of Europe that we
do get a long-lasting peace deal in Minsk. It is not in the
economic interests of Europe to have these sanctions, this
economic warfare with Russia, because the European business, the
European economy is losing out. So it is quite a significant
moment for Europe. Will the European leaders break from the
hard-line element in Washington and sign up to a deal which will
enable this conflict to be solved and for the sanctions on Russia
to be lifted, and that is the big question.

MORE: Restrained optimism follows Minsk summit, new Russia
sanctions off table?

RT: What, in your opinion, will help this
renewed ceasefire hold better that the previous one?

NC: At the moment we are in a different
position. What happened was that the Ukrainian government
launched a new offensive in January, hoping that they could try
to solve this by military force. But they actually lost
territory. I think it is pretty clear for Poroshenko now that he
can’t have a military solution, he can’t get back the lands that
he lost effectively through military force. Desertions from the
Ukrainian army, people don’t want to fight. So it is clear that
they need a change in strategy which is why he is very keen to
have this ceasefire – it is in the very best interest of the
Ukrainian authorities at the moment. That is a key factor that is
why it is slightly different today in February 2015 than it was
say last August when people perhaps in Ukraine still thought that
they could defeat the rebels in the East through military force.
That is pretty clear that it is not going to happen today even if
Washington did send in more arms to Ukraine. I don’t think it is
possible for military solution.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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