Donbass ceasefire to go into effect

A complete and comprehensive ceasefire in Ukraine’s Donbass region, concluded during a July 22 meeting by the Trilateral Contact Group,

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Photo: REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko

A complete and comprehensive ceasefire in Ukraine’s Donbass region, concluded during a July 22 meeting by the Trilateral Contact Group, is set to take effect today.

Russian-backed separatist forces have clashed with Ukrainian troops in the Donbass region—an economic zone in eastern Ukraine—since Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea. Russia is interested in securing legal autonomy for region, which would solidify its influence within Ukrainian borders and complicate Ukraine’s rapprochement with the West. Ukraine seeks to preclude Russian stealth attacks and further encroachment upon its political and territorial sovereignty.

Ukrainian leadership has expressed hope that today’s ceasefire will pave the way for regional elections, as well as the implementation of outstanding clauses in the 2014-2015 Minsk Agreements. However, Ukraine claims that elections can only transpire after the withdrawal of foreign military formations, while Russia insists that its proxy forces are an electoral prerequisite to protect Russian speakers and citizens.

Given the region’s track record of persistent clashes despite repeated ceasefire announcements, today’s agreement is unlikely to preclude further violence between Russian proxy forces and Ukrainian troops. Even if today’s deal reduces regional violence, further progress towards peace will be delayed until an agreement can be reached on the withdrawal of Russian forces.

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