Possibility of ‘permanently temporary peace’ in Ukraine

Possibility of ‘permanently temporary peace’ in Ukraine
I suppose one should be grateful for even small gestures, and the news on the morning of September 3rd that Poroshenko might speak with the separatists of Lugansk and Donetsk should be viewed positively as a first step.

It also brings to mind the saying “nothing is more permanent than the temporary.”

A true ceasefire agreement, and negotiated settlement in fact might not be the outcome desired by today’s Kiev, the US, or EU. A settlement would have to include Kiev’s recognition of LPR and DPR, or their combination into “Novorossia”, which would either be a largely autonomous state within the Ukraine (similar to Texas in the USA) or an independent unaligned republic, neither a part of Ukraine or Russia. Crimea would also have to be recognized by Kiev as Russian territory. If this were to be agreed to by Kiev, the issues of contention almost disappear. So much for the hope side of this mess.

On the realpolitik side, Poroshenko and his representatives have yet to engage in dialogue with representatives of Novorossia in Minsk or elsewhere. Calling and speaking with Putin about a ceasefire on the phone certainly bodes well. Nevertheless it isn’t decisive, as the people who Poroshenko must come to terms with are the Ukrainian citizens who have rebelled against the Kiev government, which they refer to and view as a regime that is not looking out for their best interests.

The peace plan discussed on the telephone was just that - a phone chat. Putin gave his views, with the understanding that Kiev representatives will have to meet face to face with representatives of their citizens who are rebelling as Novorossia (LPR & DPR) and sort the matter out. What then developed aptly portrays the history of this entire sad conflict: Poroshenko twittered: "As a result of my telephone conversation with the Russian president we reached an agreement on a permanent ceasefire in Donbass." The tweet remained for a while, but Poroshenko's website was edited, removing the word "permanent". Responding from Putin’s side to clarify the matter, Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Putin, told the Russian press that the two leaders had not agreed on any ceasefire, as Russia is not party to the fighting, but merely "discussed how to end the conflict."

Nevertheless, what did come out of their conversation is now referred to as the 7-point peace plan, which essentially calls for:

• The Ukrainian army and eastern rebels to stop "active offensive operations"
• Ukrainian troops to withdraw to a point where they would be unable to shell population centers
• International monitoring of the ceasefire
• No use of armed military aviation against civilians
"All-for-all" prisoner exchange without preconditions
• Humanitarian corridor for refugees and aid delivery
• Restoration of destroyed infrastructure.

It sounds good, and probably would work for a little while if implemented. The desire to stabilize the situation and come to an agreement with “Novorossia” remains the giant fly in the ointment. At the regional level for Poroshenko/Yatsenyuk to have a sit down with the rebels and actually agree to something might very well mean a furious blowback reaction in Kiev, and possibly the unruly removal of both these politicians by the very nationalist elements they have been making use of, and who, according to MSM, don’t really have any pull at all. Then there is Yatsenyuk’s view of the discussed 7-point plan: he said it was yet another ‘fraudulent plan’ appearing just prior to the NATO summit scheduled for the 4th in an attempt to evade “inevitable” judgments, and a new wave of sanctions against Russia. It would then be safe to assume that whatever Poroshenko may have talked about, Yatsenyuk is dead set against a resolution just now, especially at this psychological moment when he can try and entice the US, EU and NATO to up their backing. Yatsenyuk also commented that, "The best plan to end the war of Russia against Ukraine consists of only one point: Russia removes their regular army, mercenaries and terrorists from Ukrainian territory. And then there will be peace in Ukraine. We look forward to making NATO and the European Union in this respect stop the aggressor." That would indicate to me that Yatsenyuk is not amenable to sitting down with the citizens who are in rebellion against his Kiev government and agreeing on anything.

A man walks on rubble near an apartment block damaged by what locals say was shelling by Ukrainian forces in Donetsk, September 4, 2014 (Reuters / Maxim Shemetov)

The West’s cheerleaders of this Kiev-backed state terrorism against its own citizenry to the east have distanced themselves from taking the slightest responsibility for ever interfering in Ukraine’s internal affairs. Yet by the same token, with a supreme irony of double standards, blame Russia for the escalating conflict and chaos. It seems the politically correct governments and corporate media west of the conflict zone feel comfortably entitled to echo claims coming out of Kiev and its current rulers who claim Russia is provoking the “greatest war” in Europe since WWII. Again, no evidence is presented, only hysterical claims stemming from overindulged fantasy, with the immoral travesty of wishful thinking added to a vain desire to be “proven correct.” Kiev is going down a slippery and dangerous path, one that the Wales summit should openly and thoroughly air and discuss, in the interests of a lasting peace.

My feeling is that the chances for “ceasefire by Friday” are sadly almost nonexistent, although hope should never be shelved. Clearly a cessation to this deeply disturbing rift and bloodletting is desirable. When Poroshenko’s initial comment was first transmitted, the effect on exchanges in both Europe and Russia was immediate and positive, combined with an almost tangible reduction in the business world’s pent-up anxiety quotient, for a time at least. Will there be a peace dialogue by this Friday? Probably not, but I hope I am wrong.

As for the bigger reality, the need for a new workable relationship between the United States, Russia, and the EU has been made crystal clear by this conflict. At a time when the entire planet is undergoing unprecedented political, economic, military and belief realignment, it is no time for countries to respond to each other in the same Cold War-like, reactive, knee-jerk manner. A new assessment and position should be seriously looked at and hopefully adopted. It seems to me that a federal Ukraine that is independent of both Russian and the Western powers might be a workable path. The other side to such a possible solution is the outright separation of “Novorossia” from Kiev’s Ukraine, to form an independent country, unaligned with Ukraine or Russia. Reasons for the total independence option are the sheer depth of extremely negative emotions and the prevailing accusatory rhetoric, which are constantly being fanned between the two ethno-cultural regions. Perhaps beyond repair.

What would strongly assist in making peace a reality is for the Western powers and NATO to announce and exclude the possibility of any future expansion into the territories of today’s Ukraine, and for that matter Georgia as well. It seems likely that Russia would be willing in its turn to enter into covenants ensuring it would not infringe on the security of those countries. An actual “reset” is needed, not the current pell-mell, reactive tit for tat escalation of sanctions and tensions which can only end in greater loss and tragedy for all involved, not to mention those on the sidelines. However, that is a separate issue. First Kiev must meet with Novorossia one on one. We can only wish them every success.

Paul Goncharoff for RT

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