After a marathon all night drafting session, if not the world, then certainly its stock markets, were delighted by yesterday's early morning news that a second Ukraine ceasefire had been signed in the Belarus capital of Minsk, with the thinking (among algos perhaps, if not so much humans) that this time may be different and that following the failed Minsk I agreement in September, peace would miraculously break out. Humans were, for the most part far less enthused about said possibility, recalling how time after time 2014 saw countless "ceasefires", only to be breached within days if not hours.
It was the humans then who were not surprised by today's news that 2 days before the latest ceasefire deal is said to go into effect on Sunday, that "Ukraine and Russian-backed rebels fought fiercely across the east of the country on Friday."
A ceasefire is due to come into effect from Sunday under the agreement, which also envisages a withdrawal of the heavy weapons responsible for many of the 5,000 casualties in the conflict that broke out almost a year ago. Kiev said pro-Russian rebels had built up their forces across separatist-held zones since the deal and both sides accused each other of killing civilians.
Two people were killed and six wounded when a shell hit a cafe in the Kiev-controlled town of Shchastya near rebel-held Luhansk in eastern Ukraine, a local official said, adding that other shells had struck elsewhere in the town.
"The town's heating system is broken, power lines are damaged as well as the water supply ... So this is how a comprehensive ceasefire is prepared for," the head of the Kiev-controlled administration, Hennadiy Moskal, said online.
Outgoing fire from the Ukrainian side was visible on the road between Kiev-controlled Kramatorsk and rebel-held Donetsk and rebels at a checkpoint near Donetsk said they had been hit by mortar strikes. They mocked the impending truce.
"What sort of ceasefire? Don’t make me laugh. This is already the second or third ceasefire," one said.
There is still hope that on Sunday morning things will be different.
Of course, if one believes the local press, they won't be: according to Ukraine media which cited Deputy Defense Minister Petro Mekhed, "more than 10,000 representatives of Russia are in Ukraine today." It is unclear if "representatives" is comparable to the US army "trainers" sent to lecture what's left of Ukraine's soldiers on how to become more efficient killing machines.
And yet, one element that is certain to undermine any deal, in addition to the now usual suspects because after all this is a proxy civil war with far greater geopolitical interests involved, is Ukraine’s ultranationalistic Right Sector, whose leader Dmitry Yarosh today said his radical movement rejects the Minsk peace deal and that their paramilitary units in eastern Ukraine will continue “active fighting" according to their "own plans."
The notorious ultranationalist leader published a statement on his Facebook page Friday, saying that his radical Right Sector movement doesn’t recognize the peace deal, signed by the so-called 'contact group' on Thursday and agreed upon by Ukraine, France, Germany and Russia after epic 16-hour talks.
Yarosh claimed that any agreement with the eastern militia, whom he calls “terrorists,” has no legal force.
In his statement, Yarosh claimed that that the Minsk deal is contrary to Ukraine’s constitution, so Ukrainian citizens are not obliged to abide by it. Thus if the army receives orders to cease military activity and withdraw heavy weaponry from the eastern regions, the Right Sector paramilitaries, who are also fighting there “reserve the right” to continue the war, he said.
The Right Sector paramilitary organization continues to deploy its combat and reserve units, to train and logistically support personnel, while coordinating its activities with the military command of the Ukrainian army, paramilitary units of the Defense Ministry and the Interior Ministry, he said.
But don't despair: all a failed ceasefire means is that stocks, which will forget to selloff once the ceasefire is violated this weekend but were quick to surge on the "good news", will surge again and again, as futures "ceasefires" are signed in the coming months. As for them actually being implemented, well nobody ever said algos cares about anything more than the headline.