Ukraine, Separatists Agree On Cease-Fire; EU May Suspend Sanctions

UPDATE: So far no good...*HEAVY ARTILLERY BLASTS HEARD IN UKRAINE'S MARIUPOL: RIA

While we had grown weary of trashed truces and snapped cease-fires in Israel, it appears, according to Interfax, that Ukraine and the pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine (having gained notably over the army in recent days) have agreed a cease-fire:

  • *UKRAINE, SEPARATISTS AGREE ON CEASE-FIRE FROM 6PM TODAY: IFX
  • *POROSHENKO: PRELIM. PROTOCOL TO CEASE-FIRE SIGNED IN MINSK: BBC

Great news, especially for Merkel (and Hollande) who has already come out and noted that the cease-fire means EU could suspend sanctions (saving face and avoiding some further escalation). The question is - how much of Putin's 7-point-peace-plan will Ukraine acquiesce to? If any?

As WaPo notes,

Poroshenko did not specifically address the “Putin plan,” as it was dubbed by the Kremlin, but he said that the time had come to end the conflict.

 

“The first task is peace,” Poroshenko said in a statement. “Today at 5 a.m. I spoke to President Putin about how we can stop this horrible process. There is no denying that people must stop dying.”

As The BBC reports,

Ukrainian President says preliminary protocol to a ceasefire agreement has been signed in Minsk. Hope that ceasefire might start later

  • GOVERNOR OF UKRAINE'S DONETSK REGION CONFIRMS UKRAINE PEACE PLAN SIGNED, AWAITING DETAILS OF PLAN
  • *UKRAINE REBELS READY TO STOP FIGHTING: PLOTNITSKY

As DPA adds,

Ukrainian government representatives and leaders of the pro-Russian separatists in the country's east sign a bilateral ceasefire agreement that goes into force later Friday, the Interfax news agency reports exclusively.

 

The 14-point agreement also regulates the monitoring of the ceasefire and prisoner exchanges. It was signed after almost two hours of talks in the Belarusian capital Minsk.

The self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic has confirmed the ceasefire agreement on its official Twitter account.

European leaders are happy (for now)

  • *MERKEL SAYS VERIFIED CEASE-FIRE COULD SUSPEND ANY SANCTIONS
  • *MERKEL: ANY FURTHER RUSSIA SANCTIONS COULD BE SUSPENDED AGAIN
  • *MERKEL SAYS EU SANCTIONS THREAT REMAINS IN FORCE

But as Bloomberg's Leonid Bershidsky notes,

"All these sanctions were like poultices for a dead man," a distraught Yatsenyuk said today. "They did not help." He called for the West to freeze Russia's assets and financial transactions to force it to withdraw. The West, however, is unlikely to go that far. The sanctions have already contributed to economic contraction in Germany, and Europe cannot afford much more pain. Military aid is not an option: There is no country in the world where voters would back a war with Russia.

 

The Western world will probably wiggle out of its moral dilemma by blaming Poroshenko for being deaf to Russia's legitimate concerns about preserving Ukraine's status as a buffer state. No matter how unfair that sounds, Ukraine is now faced with the necessity of making concessions to Putin. It will take some time to sink in, but help of the kind Kiev really needs is probably not coming. Unless Poroshenko finds it in himself to bargain, eastern Ukraine may well end up a Russian-controlled no man's land like Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transnistria. There is no face-saving solution for anyone anymore.

* * *

Poroshenko full statement:

My international negotiations in Brussels and Minsk demonstrated a powerful request for peaceful political-diplomatic settlement of the conflict in the Donbas. The same mood dominated during my meetings with global leaders at the NATO Summit in Wales.

 

The entire world strives for peace, the entire Ukraine strives for peace, including millions of Donbas residents.

 

The highest value is human life. We must do everything possible and impossible to terminate bloodshed and put an end to people's suffering.

 

Taking into account the call for ceasefire of President of Russia Vladimir Putin addressed to the heads of illegal armed groups of the Donbas and the signature of the protocol at the meeting of Trilateral contact group on the implementation of the Peace plan of the President of Ukraine, I order the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine to cease fire starting from 18:00, September 5.

 

I also instruct the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine to ensure jointly with the OSCE an efficient international control over the compliance with the ceasefire regime which must be exclusively bilateral.

 

I hope that these agreements, including ceasefire and liberation of hostages, will be strictly observed.

*  *  *

Extend the process with no further sanctions until the winter, then Russia is in charge and holds all the leverage... perhaps that's why the market is not exuberantly rallying on this apparent de-escalation.