‘It is difficult to gauge the motives of the Kiev regime agreeing to ceasefire’
RT:The so-calledMinsk protocolthat has been released includes a provision for a special status for two regions in eastern Ukraine. What do you think that implies?
Nebojsa Malic: It could mean steps toward recognition - I am cautiously optimistic. The problem is that nobody in Kiev has seriously given any thought to either decentralization or federalization even after month of warfare, and now it seems it is almost too late for that. I believe the leaders in the East have said, “It’s too late for federalization, we will settle for nothing but independence.” It is unclear whether them agreeing to this means they are ready to take back those remarks or whether there will be some sort of common language with Kiev after everything that happened, from Odessa to all sorts of atrocities near Donetsk and Lugansk, with the government’s shelling of civilians. It is very difficult to imagine that this can be mended. Again, I am cautiously optimistic, it is a good thing that there is a ceasefire in place, it seems to be holding but it is very difficult to gauge the motives of the regime in Kiev actually agreeing to it, except to patch up its broken military and try again.
RT:The concessions that Kiev is apparently ready to make now are the ones the eastern regions insisted on from the very beginning. Why did there need to be all these deaths before Kiev finally agreed to what it was initially asked?
NM: Because the forces dispatched at the end of June after another false ceasefire to take these regions by force have suffered a catastrophic defeat on a tactical, strategic and operational level. You have had thousands of these people surrounded, their equipment captured and repurposed. Essentially the Ukrainian army, the regular army, has been soundly defeated by these rebels as have been the Nazi battalions, as well as the National Guard. And essentially at the point where the Ukrainian military started collapsing, Kiev suddenly decided to accept the truce. I initially believe that was a ploy before the NATO summit, but at the NATO summit nothing seems to have happened and any sort of promises of support and backing were so much hot air. At this point, I believe they are trying to hold on to this ceasefire to give themselves a chance to regroup and figure out where to go next, because obviously their strategy of repressing these people has failed.
RT:The Minsk protocol is also calling for the withdrawal of all illegal armed groups from E. Ukraine. Who should this apply to?
NM: I am assuming that the people in eastern Ukraine would consider this to be all sorts of [retaliatory] battalions sponsored by the oligarchs as well as the National Guards. On the other hand, people in Kiev will readily say, “All the Russian troops that have been invading us 300 times over past six months need to withdraw.” In such ambiguous language they are not really sure what they mean. It seems to be such a general verbiage that may mean whatever people want it to mean. I am not really sure that this is an altogether positive development.
RT:According to the reports, there's been some sporadic fighting in eastern Ukraine amid the ongoing truce. Who do you think could be behind it?
NM: Considering that it is Donetsk that is being shelled, I am fairly confident it is the troops under government control in Kiev. Not sure what to think about the reports down south, they seem sporadic. My instinct is to blame the government but it is very difficult to say.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.