Shortly after a ceasefire deal was initiated between Russia, Ukraine, and allies in Eastern Ukraine, the Ukrainian army accused pro-Russian rebels of breaking it. On Monday, just hours after the ceasefire was initiated, Ukraine claimed that the Russian separatists continued to bomb Ukrainian forces, killing at least one soldier and wounding another. The truce was negotiated and agreed on at the Munich security conference over the weekend between Russia, Ukraine, and their allies. The ceasefire comes in the wake of increasing conflict throughout Eastern Ukraine as Russian-backed separatist forces grow.
More than 30 people have been killed this month alone in the conflict, which has gone on for nearly three years. Over the past three years, there have been nearly 10,000 people killed in the fight between Ukraine government forces and pro-Russian rebels. The latest ceasefire is one of many that have been unsuccessfully put in place as Ukraine continues to seek peace and stability. This truce is “the start of the withdrawal of heavy arms” in Eastern Ukraine, but the rebels must respect it to make progress towards peace. France and Germany have played a major role in the brokering of the latest truce and will continue to have a large influence on regaining peace in Ukraine. The French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault says, “We agree to meet quickly, perhaps in three weeks, to see if we can advance on the ceasefire, withdrawal of heavy weapons and exchange of prisoners. We need a lot of patience, because we can see a lack of will on either side.”
Ally countries can have great influence in ending conflict through peaceful revolution. The world must hold all world leaders accountable for their actions, including Russian leader Vladimir Putin, whose influence in Ukraine has been the heart of their problems for too long. U.S Vice-President Mike Pence was also in attendance at the Munich security conference and said, “Know this: The United States will continue to hold Russia accountable, even as we search for new common ground, which as you know, President Trump believes can be found.” Although, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov came back at the American leader, saying that, “We are witnessing the end of a very long era, the end of an era of dominance by the historic West. Economic, financial, political dominance.”
On Saturday Vladimir Putin ordered Russian authorities to allow people in conflict-ridden Eastern Ukraine to cross the Russian border for travel, work, and study by temporarily recognizing civil registration documents from rebel-held areas. This could be a big move towards annexing parts of Eastern Ukraine (as Russia has done in Crimea) as Putin looks to take control of Russia’s smaller neighbour.
Russia’s presence in Ukraine is both unwanted and unnecessary. Putin’s actions are a defiance of opposing powers in the west. We will see in the coming weeks and months, how world leaders act towards Putin as he continues to support rampant rebels in Eastern Ukraine. The truce is a good step forward, but it is important that it holds for real progress to be made.
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