West clings to fraying Ukraine peace deal

The US and EU are backing a three month ceasefire, despite the fraying peace deal in the Ukraine

West clings to fraying Ukraine peace deal

World Bulletin / News Desk

Western powers are clinging to a fraying peace deal in Ukraine and forcing Kiev to follow suit, even though Russian President Vladimir Putin shows no sign of wavering and NATO is warning thatMoscow may be preparing for a new offensive.

The United States and European Union are still backing the three-month old ceasefire, despite a growing feeling that it is in its death throes, telling Putin that sanctions will remain if he does not honour his promises.

This offers little consolation to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko who, while under pressure at home over a steady loss of troops fighting pro-Moscow rebels in the east, has to keep in diplomatic step with the West whose political and financial help he needs.

His feelings showed in Berlin on Wednesday when a German journalist suggested eastern Ukraine was relatively calm.

"I'd like to contradict that because Ukraine is paying a very high price today for this pseudo-ceasefire," he retorted, noting 83 Ukrainian servicemen had died since a second peace deal was signed in the Belarus capital of Minsk in February.

"Ukraine is losing heroes every day but we continue to absolutely support the Minsk agreements," he told ZDF TV.

Three Ukrainian soldiers were killed in the past 24 hours, a military spokesman said on Sunday.

Few people in Kiev believe Putin will lessen his support for the fighters in a conflict that has killed more than 6,100 people in just over a year. He may simply be waiting till the EU decides in June on extending sanctions on Russia's financial, defence and energy sectors before showing his hand.

SICKLY FROM BIRTH

While it has been sickly from birth, no-one wants to administer the last rites on the ceasefire.

"Based on the Minsk agreement from February, we have to note that we are not yet where we want to be. We still don't have a complete ceasefire," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in Berlin alongside Poroshenko.

Lithuania's anti-Moscow president, Dalia Grybauskaite, was blunter. "The ceasefire no longer exists," she told Reuters.

Kiev-based political analyst Volodymyr Fesenko believes the the Europeans in particular are labouring under an illusion. "They try to cling to this mirage and move things in that direction," he said. "Ukraine's Western partners will not undertake anything new. They will try, to the very last, to revive the corpse called the Minskagreements."

Some commentators detected a softer tone when U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met Putin last week. However, the United States has accused Russia of failing to withdraw heavy equipment such as air defence systems, tanks and artillery from eastern Ukraine in violation of the Minsk plan.

NATO's top commander, General Philip Breedlove, told the U.S. Congress last month that Russia's militarymight be using the truce to prepare for a new offensive in support of the separatists.

Any new Russian-backed thrust is likely to focus on the coastal city of Mariupol. If it fell, the rebels might be able to open a land corridor to Crimea, which Russia annexed last year.

Last Mod: 18 Mayıs 2015, 09:38
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