It is almost three weeks that there is a ceasefire in the Donbass, but shelling on the cities continues and people still die. Mass media seem to look away more than ever, while the political parties are vociferous about a non-existent peace. In the meanwhile, the inhabitants of the cities under control of separatist are waiting to know their fate in an exhausting uncertain mood.
“We will be a new Transnistria,” a resident of Donetsk told me few days ago. He wanted to say that the ongoing truce, which seems to hold, is likely to transform the Donbass in a new frozen conflict. As we talked on Skype, we had to truncate abruptly communication. “Damn, I heard two shots right near here,” he said. “I’d better go down to the shelter.”
In the weeks since the beginning of the ceasefire between the Ukrainian army and the separatist’s militia, attacks from both sides were repeated, albeit at a slower pace. Between ten and twenty people died. According to many, it makes no sense to talk of truce, while according to others, the declaration of a cease-fire is equivalent to a surrender of Kiev. Here are six reasons why freezing the current situation in Donbass may prove to be a mistake.
1. The decision to stop the fighting to support a peace plan comes at a critical moment of the war. Government troops and paramilitary battalions loyal to Kiev were enjoying success after another and were already on the outskirts of Donetsk and Lugansk. Their advance seemed unstoppable and, according to government sources, the liberation of the entire east was expected by the Independence Day of Ukraine on August 24. Just when the goal seemed within reach, a new front in the south – near the port of Mariupol, on the coast of the Sea of Azov – opened, giving the rebels a new and large chunk of territory. The truce is now freezing a situation much more favorable to the rebels, with over 300 kilometers of border with Russia out of government control.