Ukraine Ceasefire Deal Just 'A Glimmer of Hope'; U.S. Says Fighting Escalating

A ceasefire between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed rebels is supposed to start on Sunday but that still seems a long way away.



Negotiations orchestrated by France and Germany in Belarus over the war in Ukraine ended this morning with a deal between Russia and Ukraine to end the months-long fighting in eastern Ukraine between government forces and Russian-backed rebels. The ceasefire is supposed to start on Sunday. A previous ceasefire deal ended when rebels blew through the ceasefire line. The region between that line and the new front will be turned into a "buffer zone" in the new deal.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called the deal "a glimmer of hope, no more, no less," hinged on whether fighting actually stops in the region. A statement released by the White House press secretary said the U.S. was "particularly concerned about the escalation of fighting today, which is inconsistent with the spirit of the accord."

In the last week, unmarked Russian-speaking rebels launched an assault on Debaltseve, beyond the previous ceasefire line, and at least one rebel commander says his ceasefire is contingent on Ukrainian troops leaving the town.  Russia, meanwhile, says it's conducting military exercises involving more than two dozen missile regiments in its border regions.

The negotiated deal requires the withdrawal of heavy weaponry from the conflict zone, to be overseen by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, but the Ukrainian government says it's not happening yet. Via Reuters:

A Ukrainian military spokesman said around 50 tanks, 40 missile systems and 40 armoured vehicles had crossed overnight into eastern Ukraine from Russia. It was not immediately possible to verify the figures, which were higher than in previous such statements. Moscow dismisses them as groundless.

NATO has said there is overwhelming evidence of Russian armour entering Ukraine but declined to comment on the latest report.

"The intensity of fighting is evidenced by a sharp increase in the number of people trying to leave front-line towns," spokesman Andriy Lysenko said in a daily briefing held on Thursday before the deal was announced.

Rebel fighters accuse Kiev of shelling civilian areas, an accusation the Ukrainian military rejects.

Hawks in Congress, on both sides, have been calling for the U.S. to supply arms to Ukraine, something President Obama was still mulling over earlier this month. Security analysts say Russia has the capacity to arm rebels at a faster pace than the U.S. could arm Ukrainian forces.

If the ceasefire holds it's supposed to lead to constitutional reforms that could grant eastern Ukrainian regions more autonomy and, eventually, to Ukraine regaining control of its border with Russia.

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  1. I feel bad for the Ukrainians because they are at the receiving end of Russia’s asshattery but us giving them weapons or providing logistical assistance won’t do much to help them. I can’t for life of me understand why the the Ukrainians gave up their nuclear weapons and actually thought that the US would protect them from whomever wanted to fuck with them.

    1. They fucked up. They trusted us.

      1. You should use the full quote in this context:

        America: Ukraine, you can’t spend your whole life worrying about your mistakes! You fucked up. . .you trusted us! Hey, make the best of it! Maybe we can help.

        1. I suggest you start drinking heavily. Trust me, I’m pre-med.

          1. I thought you were pre-law?

            1. What’s the difference?

        2. “Hey, make the best of it! Maybe we can help.”

          By the way, there is the chance of a snowman in a blast furnace that we’ll offer any help, so ta ta for now.

          1. Well, there’s all kinds of help. Hugs help, you know.

  2. Damn it, let’s just stay out of this one. Anybody thinking that the U.S. government can successfully fuck with the Russians in their own backyard is delusional, especially when you look at who would be running this circus: Obama? Kerry? Sure, nothing will go wrong with that…

    1. And it doesn’t help that the EU members are needledicks. The worst thing the US could have for Europe is provide their defense for them.

    2. We could, but that’s got too much potential downside to make much sense. We’re a much, much greater conventional power than Russia, but nukes. I’m not quite ready for Fallout IV.

      1. I had a Bulgarian acquaintance that went on a rant that the US and EU should be helping the Ukraines out and fight against the Russians. He also loves the European welfare state. Anyway, I told that perhaps if Europe didn’t spend all of their money on welfare and used their money for defense then perhaps Russia would not be as bold as they are right now.

        He obviously sputtered with rage.

        1. It’s the obvious solution. The second Russia showed signs of aggression, we should’ve told Europe in no uncertain terms that it was time to start defending themselves again. And offer to sell them weapons. Also, I’d have suggested to them in more not uncertain terms that it would be foolish to be overly dependent on Russian oil.

          1. And there’s the real problem, the Euros are terrified the Russians will shut down the oil.

            1. I thought they didn’t depend on oil since they use solar power and other green energy unlike the barbaric Americans.


            2. Which is why they need to diversify right now. It’s not like they’ve been getting oil from there for fifty years–there are alternatives.

              1. You know who else used alternatives to natural oil?

                1. You call it corn; we call it maize.

                  Actually, I know the answer. It’s the Canadians. They hawk their rapeseed oil under the more natural and less offensive name, “canola.”

                  1. STEVE SMITH RAPESEED OIL!!!

                    1. Yeah, I can’t believe there’s not more outcry about that.

      2. I’m not quite ready for Fallout IV.

        The hardest thing about the nuclear apocalypse will be hiding how excited I am.

        1. I’ve got a Wastesmobile ready.

  3. C’mon, who doesn’t want a proxy war with the Russians? Just the thought of it makes me feel like a kid again.

    1. That did get us some good movies. One mustn’t discount that.

  4. The Russians* aren’t going to stop fighting until doing so has a higher ROI than continuing to fight.

    They also aren’t going to withdraw until doing so has a higher ROI than staying.

    The sanctions are probably hurting Europe worse than Russia, which is why the French and Germans are looking for a face-saving way to end them via these negotiations. The only way to make the Russian ROI negative is to beat them militarily.

    *Spare me the polite fiction that these are Ukrainian rebels, please.

    1. It’s pretty unreal that Europe, Ukraine, and the US have absolute proof that the Russians are arming these rebels and they are denying it. It’s pretty absurd.

      1. Not just arming them, either.

        There’s Russian troops there, and the mysteriously advanced air defense facilities aren’t staffed by a bunch Ukrainains, either.

        1. Uh, they also shot a civilian airliner out of the sky with an advanced Russian SAM killing everyone.

          Yet the reaction is typical Euroweenie.

          Them guys are screwed in the Ukraine if they are hoping the US is going to come to their rescue.

      2. It’s pretty unreal that Europe, Ukraine, and the US have absolute proof that the Russians are arming these rebels and they are denying it.

        Denial saves having to piss off Reason writers by pretending to do something about it.

  5. You know what other German Chancellor made a deal with Russia to avoid fighting in the region?

  6. If the fighting resumes, Russian troops are going to have to be there fighting alongside the rebels. The rebels don’t have the heavy weapons systems or the training to operate them, for one. Plus I doubt many of them know a defilade from a FEBA–they need Russia’s military knowledge base as well.

  7. There’s 45 million people in Ukraine, plus Wiki says their industrial know-how is fairly sophisticated:

    “Ukraine has a very large heavy-industry base and is one of the largest refiners of metallurgical products in Eastern Europe.[238] However, the country is also well known for its production of high-technological goods and transport products, such as Antonov aircraft and various private and commercial vehicles.”

    Why do we have to arm them? Can’t they figure out how to make anti-tank guns to take out Russian armor?

    1. They should’ve gone all Swiss and built underground tunnels and kept one or two nukes.

  8. There are no Russian troops in Ukraine and the Ukraine Rebels don’t take orders from Moscow.

    Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine’s government all agree that the
    Ukraine rebels will stand down.

    Got it?

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