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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Ukrainian crisis: US visit of Petro Poroshenko and the results of the Minsk talks

Ukrainian President Petro Porosheno and US President Barak
(Image: Bloomberg)
Despite the mutual agreements regarding the ceasefire and the regime of halting the fire in Eastern Ukraine, the situation in the zone of an anti-terrorist operation in Donetsk and Luhansk regions remains extremely tense, with the massive troops of Russian forces remaining on the territory of Ukraine, new Russian “humanitarian” convoy entering the city of Donetsk on Saturday, 20 September, and shelling the cities in the war zone, including Donetsk, Luhansk and Mariupol.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian Defense Ministry has announced recently that the fourth wave of a partial mobilization could be expected in the nearest future in case Russian aggression will not stop.

Amid the continuous fighting in Donbas region Ukraine has made several important strategic and historical steps this week, including ratifying of an Association Agreement with EU, which happened together with the same procedure in European Parliament, voting for the long awaited lustration law and adoption of the law regarding the special status of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, introduced by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. The later law appeared to be a really controversial and disputed document, as the opinions of the politicians, analysts, experts, military officials, civil workers and activists, journalists and ordinary citizens are too different regarding this issue. Some see this step as a sign of Ukrainian weakness and a personal weakness of Mr. Poroshenko who is surrendering Ukraine to Russia and plays the game of Putin, while the others claim this was an important step in order to stop the bloodshed and to find another way to resolve the current crisis, as the Donbas war costs too much for Ukraine. Anyway, despite the law regarding the special status of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions the situation there remains tense.

Another important development of this week was an official visit of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to Canada and to US. Canadian government in its turn declared their total support of Ukraine and Ukrainian cause and announced the new package of sanctions to be imposed on Russia over its aggression in Ukraine. These sanctions include economic restrictions and personal sanctions against the highest officials as well.

In US Mr. Poroshenko has met with the US President Barak Obama, with Joe Biden and John Kerry and has held a speech in the US Congress as well, aiming to deliver Ukrainian message to the US and the world and calling on US government to support Ukraine and to help it in its fight with an aggressor. Mr. Poroshenko also stressed the importance of a matter of an annexation of Crimea by Russia happened in March and called on the international community to never recognize this illegal and criminal act. In addition to that Ukrainian President called on US to support Ukraine with the economic and military help, which is really necessary for Ukraine at the current stage.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko delivering his
speech in US Congress
(Image: Kiev Ukraine Info)

After the meeting of Petro Poroshenko and Barak Obama a joint statement was issued and it stated that Ukraine will receive US help and assistance in addition to the previously granted help, which will make $ 240 million of financial aid and $ 1 billion of financial guarantees. The wide field of issues of the cooperation between Ukraine and US were also discussed by the Presidents during the meeting, including the issues of a financial, economic, security, defense, military and energy cooperation.

As for the issue of energy and energy security, cooperation between the two countries continues and Ukraine is expected to host a US expert team to arrive in Ukraine in the nearest future in order to consult Ukrainian colleagues in the matters of an energy security, stated Ukrainian President.

US will also grant financial aid for Ukraine for its economic and defense purposes, added Ukrainian President. In addition to that US will send its monitoring team to observe the upcoming parliamentary elections scheduled for 26 October.

Mr. Poroshenko, who delivered an emotional speech in the Congress of US, also called on US to continue pressuring Russia diplomatically and with the sanctions as well.
US President Barak Obama in his turn declared that US will widen its help to Ukraine in the sphere of economy and security issues to support Ukraine. US will also join EU in the fight against Russian aggression and it totally supports Ukrainian sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.

Though Ukrainian request for a special status of a NATO partner was met with a refusal of a US President, according to the statement of Mr. Poroshenko. Mr. Obama declared that Ukraine has already a similar status in the framework of its close and deep work and cooperation with US and NATO, and this cooperation will widen in the future as well.
Meanwhile, the trilateral peace talks of Ukraine, Russia and pro-Russian rebels, being held in the Belarusian capital Minsk and monitored and mediated by the EU representatives and OSCE, ended with the issuing of a so called Memorandum of Peace aimed to stop the fighting in the Eastern Ukraine and to turn the process of resolving the crisis into the peaceful political and diplomatic current.

Ukrainian soldiers in an anti-terrorist operation zone
(Image: Independent)
The meeting of a special contact group held on Saturday, 19 September, has adopted the Memorandum with the mutual agreements regarding am immediate halting of fire and a ceasefire. It’s worth mentioning though that the previously announced long term ceasefire was also reached during the talks in Minks and was declared on the 5th September, but then the ceasefire was systematically violated by the Russian soldiers and pro-Russian terrorists as well.

The current Memorandum of Peace was signed and welcomed by the participants of the Minsk talks and consists of nine points. The key points of this document are the following: total halt of violence, fighting and usage of all the weapons in the war zone; all the hostilities to be halted on the current positions (19 September); prohibitions of usage of all kinds of weapons; establishing the no-flight zone for the military and civilian airplanes; withdrawal of all the heavy military technique and withdrawal of the foreign mercenaries and fighters from the territory of Ukraine and release of the prisoners and hostages. In addition to that the Memorandum declares that the special 30 km buffer zone in the conflict area must be set up, and all the heavy weapons should be withdrawn from that area and from all the cities, villages and residential areas as well. Special monitoring mission of the OSCE members should be sent to the conflict area to monitor the situation.

Thus, the situation in the zone of an anti-terrorist operation remains tense and dangerous, as the pro-Russian terrorists and Russian soldiers continue to ignore and violate the ceasefire, though the recently declared Memorandum of peace could possibly bring some positive changes.