‘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)
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.

READMORE: 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 disaster.

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

READ MORE: '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 other?

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.

READ 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.