Volatile Ceasefire In The East

In the Ukraine Russian and Ukrainian forces have both acknowledged a truce. While the truce is officially acknowledged, some action has been exchanged. On Sunday, however, Ukrainian forces accused separatists of firing at government forces despite the aforementioned ceasefire. Military spokesperson Andriy Lysenko says “In the last 24 hours we have lost two Ukrainian soldiers, eight have been wounded,” he also said that 40 separatist fighters had been killed in defensive fire. Lysenko says that there have also been attacks on the east’s industrial hub, Donetsk, a city which separatist forces hold.

Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko says that during this cease-fire nearly 70 percent of Russian troops have withdrawn from the Ukraine, with such a large retrogression of troops, there are talks in Europe of delaying sanctions against Russia. While the situation seems to be the best right now, there are questions in Kiev, Ukraine’s capital as to whether or not the ceasefire will hold.

Olesky Haran, a political science professor at Kiev Mohyla University says that the situation’s outcome depends on the West’s response. Haran says “If the West is tough, Putin will not be able to move. But whenever he feels the West is weak, he’s going to act.”

The conflict in Ukraine centers around the port city of Mariupol, an industrial city which borders Crimea directly. President Petro Poroshenko surprised miners and metalworkers with a visit to Mariupol on Monday, the eighth where he made it clear that “…this city was, is, and will always be Ukrainian. And we will never let anyone take it.” Olesky Haran stands firm in his belief that Mariupol is Putin’s next target. “His plan was to create a corridor between Russian territory and Crimea by land. So actually, his idea was to seize the town of Mariupol. But Putin realized that, first of all, it won’t be easy for him in military terms. And second, there would be Western sanctions. So he stopped.” If Putin has indeed stopped and the ceasefire holds, negotiations are to begin, centered around a 12-point peace plan put forth by both Putin and Poroshenko.

Ukraine is in a state of instability, so the coming months of winter are expected to be harsh. The Ukrainian government has put in place an energy security plan to decrease consumption of gas, due to the fact that imports from Russia are unsure. Another problem with the energy situation in Ukraine is coal. Alexander Paraschiy, an energy sector analyst for an investment group says “At the moment, roughly half of coal mines that produce coal for Ukraine are under occupied territory. And roughly 40 percent of electricity in Ukraine is made from coal.”  Without oil or coal, the Ukraine will be left practically powerless in the months to come.