Though several agreements on ceasefire in Donbas have been made and broken since the fighting in eastern Ukraine began in 2014, the latest deal signed in Minsk on Wednesday stands a much better chance of surviving, according to U.S.-based geopolitical intelligence firm Stratfor.
It represents a marked departure from previous attempts to stop the fighting. Unlike previous cease-fires, which have applied to the entire battlefield, the new truce addresses only three areas of dispute along the line of contact, reads the report.
If all goes well in the first three settlements, negotiations to implement a similar withdrawal and disengagement process in other areas of the conflict will begin. This gradual approach will facilitate the peace process, allowing contentious negotiations over strategic hotspots such as Avdiivka to take a backseat for the time being.
More than the many previous attempts at peace, the latest cease-fire deal could lay the groundwork for serious progress in the deconfliction process in eastern Ukraine. What`s more, it suggests that the United States and Russia`s efforts to make headway over contentious issues before President Barack Obama leaves office — and before the European Union votes again on whether to extend its sanctions on Russia — are paying off.
However, major obstacles remain in the way of a resolution to the Ukrainian conflict. Kyiv and Moscow are still at odds even over how to begin the process outlined in the Minsk protocols. Ukraine maintains that Russia and the separatists adopt key security provisions before any political changes are made, while Moscow is no less adamant that Ukraine must first recognize and grant greater political autonomy to Donbas.
At the same time, as UNIAN reported earlier, U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden said Wednesday that several EU states were not as firm as the U.S. in the issue of maintaining sanctions against Russia. Therefore, Moscow may try to take advantage of the growing discord in the bloc by cooperating only to the extent necessary to influence the sanctions vote without making major concessions over the Minsk accords.
Despite the promise that the new ceasefire agreement shows, the conflict in Ukraine — and the deadlock between Russia and the West — is far from settled, Stratfor analysts believe.
”Nevertheless, the latest withdrawal agreement proves that a concerted effort is being made to at least reduce the violence in eastern Ukraine,” the article concludes.