The DPR leader spoke about the readiness to withdraw from the ceasefire
Originally appeared at SP, translated by Mario Kuoljok exclusively for SouthFront; Edited by Desi Tzoenva
The head of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), Alexander Zakharchenko, talked about orders to restart the hostilities. According to local media, the DPR is ready to withdraw from the truce in the event that the Ukrainian military does not stop shelling the residential areas of Donbass.
An announcement by the DPR leader was added, stating that the silent regime on the line of contact was not a demonstration of weakness. According to him, the ceasefire initiative introduced on 15 September was a gesture of goodwill, with the purpose of trying to resolve the conflict in a political way. The People’s Republic hoped that the Kiev official would take reciprocal steps, but “the Ukrainian side has not responded.” Zakharchenko stressed that a decrease in the intensity of fire was recorded on 16 September.
It can be recalled that Zakharchenko and the head of the Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR), Igor Plotnitsky, signed a decree on the introduction of a unilateral ceasefire along the contact line in Donbass on 13 September to start from 15 September.
“All units of the militia are strictly prohibited from opening fire in response to attacks and provocations from the Ukrainian army and the national guard. I hope that this step will set an example, and the leadership in Kiev will follow our example,” was stated by the head of the LPR. Also, Plotnitsky had asked for OSCE observers to monitor the implementation of the truce. The regime of silence was declared for a period of a week.
Does this mean that Zakharchenko is ready to order the resumption of hostilities? After all, hardly anyone doubts that Ukraine will ignore this ultimatum. Besides, the heads of the DPR and LPR have repeatedly promised to resume hostilities, giving Kiev different time frames in which they must stop the attacks.
“Indeed, Alexander Zakharchenko already took such steps and statements,” says Political Analyst, Eduard Popov.
In Donbass, many things give the impression of deja vu, including the announcement of a unilateral ceasefire. Just as the order for the ceasefire was given, the resumption of retaliatory strikes was ordered.
SP: The ‘silent regime’ ends on Thursday. Isn’t it easier to wait until Thursday and to officially announce the impossibility of extending it?
I believe that the moment of the announcement of a possible exit from the ceasefire is correct. The main thing is to give the opponent enough time to assess the situation and react. We must not forget that the issue of the war in the Donbass is in the context of a pan-European and even global policy. Each word and gesture of the head of the DPR is observed not only in Kiev, but also in European capitals. For Zakharchenko, it is important to show that he not only went for a unilateral ceasefire, but under conditions of continued shelling from the Ukrainian side, gave them time to reconsider their position. Of course, this is a gentleman’s warning and is intended solely for European politicians – in Kiev, there are hardly any gentlemen or adequate politicians left in power.
SP: Why is a unilateral ceasefire needed? Obviously, Kiev will simply ignore it…
Of course, Zakharchenko himself and his advisers are not so naive to expect a gesture of peace from Poroshenko. But again, the games around the Donbass are actively playing out not only to Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk, but also in some other European and world capitals. Only on 15 September, a representative delegation led by the Foreign Ministers of France and Germany arrived in Kiev. Those three points, more precisely, the sequence of their performance, which was voiced by the head of French diplomats, Ayrault, in order to implement the Minsk Agreements, became a tub of cold water for Poroshenko. There is little doubt that the statement made by Alexander Zakharchenko was not associated with a visit paid to Ayrault and Steinmeier. The head of the DPR, more accurately, his political advisers, in my view, made an absolutely correct move and demonstrated commitment to the principles of the Minsk Agreements. If this assumption is correct, then the initiative for a moratorium on the return to fire should only be regarded as a diplomatic and propaganda move. This initiative does not affect the military situation around the DPR, or rather, hurts it. Therefore, it is temporary. But the task of demonstrating a willingness to perform ‘Minsk’ is fulfilled and, I think, was noted by the distinguished guests in the Ukrainian capital.
SP: In your opinion, what needs to happen to resume full-fledged fighting? Who, in your opinion, could first lose their nerve?
The nerves are certainly stronger in the Donbass, not in the Ukraine. Donbass is generally the strongest region of the former Ukraine. And yet, it is not in the nerves or calculations. There could be several reasons to start a new war, such as domestic or international politics. Of those reasons that are obvious are: Ukraine’s belief in the considerable superiority of its armed forces over the armies of the DPR and LPR; a provocation of President Poroshenko’s opponents (such as those Mikhail Pogrebinsky recently spoke about) interested in destabilising the situation in Ukraine, for which the war in the Donbass will be a good starting point; the deterioration of the socio-economic situation in Ukraine to a critical level and the related political consequences for the regime; Poroshenko… In the article for the English language edition, I have suggested that one or another turn of the presidential elections in the US may also push Kiev to the beginning of the war. No one knows the answer to the question of when that will happen. It is undoubted that the war will resume and ‘Minsk-2’ will be perceived as a prolonged pause between fights.
SP: Does the reluctance of the Ukrainian side to stop attacks tell us about Poroshenko’s inability to control its security forces, or is it a deliberate policy of Kiev? What is the ultimate aim?
Poroshenko is interested in shifting responsibility for the shelling of the territory of Donbass to inadequate militants and neo-Nazis. It’s a game of helplessness, which doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. If desired, Kiev can vigorously dispose of battalions of neo-Nazis, which we have seen recently in the ‘Azov’ example – the regiment was moved from Mariupol to the Zaporizhzhya region. That is, if the shelling of the cities in the DPR and LPR was done by the anarchists from territorial volunteer battalions in violation of the orders from Kiev, they would withdraw from the line of fire very quickly. Unfortunately, Donetsk is willing to repeat the Kiev version; for example, the speaker of the DPR National Council, Pushilin, from a lack of experience and political thinking. Poroshenko needs the Ukrainian militias as a motivator to go war with their own people. Today, they are controlled by the Ukrainian authorities.
The tactical goal of the Poroshenko regime, which ideological Ukrainian neo-Nazis called the “regime of internal occupation,” is to destroy some enemies (neo-Nazis, patriots from volunteer battalions) by the hands of other enemies, the “separatists” of Donbass. But I guess your question about the targeting policy of Kiev is not connected with this. Kiev’s purpose is mostly to wear down and bleed its opponents in the Donbass. Hence the endless attacks and the social and financial-economic blockade of the territories. The shelling of the territory of the Republic during the truce, and the refusal to pay pensions to the elderly in the DPR and the LPR, are part of a single plan for the genocide of the Russian population of Donbass.
This is another ‘Chinese’ (the last) warning that Kiev most likely does not respond to, said Political Scientist, Alexander Dudchak.
But, nevertheless, the attempt had to be made. The answer of the DPR is unlikely to be in the form of full-scale hostilities, but to defend Donetsk from shelling by the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) is an eminently do-able task.
SP: Why do we have this unilateral ceasefire? Does anyone believe Kiev will join in it?
It’s not so important whether or not to trust someone. “Do what you must… .” In this encounter, a KO win of any of the parties is not possible for the simple fact that regular Russian troops are not involved. But such peaceful initiatives allow one to gain “points.” International observers and the so-called international community might notice who is really committed to peace and the implementation of the Minsk Agreements, and who constantly breaks them.
SP: What is the gain on such ‘goodwill gestures’? Do the western observers assess them appreciatively?
Someday, quantity turns into quality, even with major sight problems among Western observers. The policy of European countries towards Ukraine and the conflict in the Donbass is adjusted, and the change of leadership in the leading countries of the European Union could change the view on Kiev significantly, not in their favour.
SP: And what about the constant shelling by Kiev? Is it a war of attrition or the desire to occupy their army in conditions of impossibility of a full-fledged attack?
Kiev needs an excuse for the failure in foreign and domestic policy. It needs an “external aggressor.” But time is not on the Kiev authorities’ side. The constant breakdowns in fulfilling the Minsk Agreements is annoying Europeans more and more, Ukraine is self-marginalising, the economy is degrading, the standard of living is falling. To explain all this with “external aggression” is not possible. The country’s leadership is trying to delay the inevitable end, being fully aware that there’s not much time left in power. The motto for them is “time-money.”
SP: Is there any real leverage to perform at least the first paragraph of the Minsk Agreements (a ceasefire) because without it, there is no sense in talking about the following points? Or is ‘Minsk’ impossible from the first paragraph to the last?
Under the current regime, it is virtually impossible. It would need the power of all the combined efforts of the West, but it is difficult to imagine that the US of its own free will refuse to use Ukraine as an important regional destabiliser.