Vladimir Putin acting, through his foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, reached an agreement in Berlin this week under which Russian “separatists” in eastern Ukraine would withdraw heavy weapons from the demarcation line agreed to on September 19 pursuant to the terms of the Minsk Protocol of September 5, 2014.
Meanwhile Petro Poroshenko stated in an interview with the Neue Zurchner Zeitung that two tactical battalions of Russian soldiers had moved into the Donbas region of the Ukraine, and that according to his intelligence officials some 8,000-9,500 Russian soldiers were inside of Ukrainian territory in the Donbas.
Russia is also reported to have some 500 tanks in the eastern Ukraine.
The day after the agreement, news reports spoke of a sharp increase in the fighting.
(1) Christian Weisflog, “Petro Poroschenko im Interview
«Starke Armee ermöglicht politische Lösung»,” Neue Zurchner Zeitung, 20. Januar 2015, 15:13 Uhr.
(2) David Blair, “Russia sends 9,000 troops into Ukraine, says Petro Poroshenko; This deployment of Russian forces would be the biggest since the crisis began,” The Telegraph, January 21, 2015 (6:27PM GMT).
(3) “Ukraine und Russland vereinbaren Abzug schwerer Waffen; Beim Krisentreffen in Berlin haben sich die Außenminister auf die Einhaltung einer Demarkationslinie geeinigt. Frank-Walter Steinmeier sieht ‘wahrnehmbare Fortschritte’,”, Die Zeit, 22. Januar 2015 (Aktualisiert um 03:53 Uhr).
(4) “UKRAINE-KRIEG: Kämpfe laut Nato so intensiv wie vor Friedensabkommen
Seit September haben die Kämpfe nach Angaben der Nato deutlich an Intensität gewonnen. Insgesamt wurden seit April 5.000 Menschen getötet, teilte die OSZE mit, Die Zeit, 22. Januar 2014 (17:29 Uhr).
(5) David M. Herszenhorn, “Ukraine Cedes Donetsk Airport to Rebels as Fighting Continues,” New York Times, January 22, 2015.
1. With respect to the Ukraine, Putin has never kept his word or honored his agreements, such as the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, the Minsk Protocol, or the April 17 Geneva agreement.
2. Deceit and surprise military moves are part of his modus operandi.
3. The January 21 agreement in Berlin may be yet another subterfuge to confuse his opponents while he launches another assault on the Donbas, or broadens the war beyond that region.
4. The West, including the EU, NATO and the U.S. should now adopt a new round of real, hard sanctions and military decisions ondeploymentson the eastern front.
5. Putin never backs down in the face of threats.
6. He and Russia must be contained. Economic sanctionsshould be sharply strengthened. NATO should immediately deploy troops to the eastern front, and suspend or abrogate the 1997 NATO-Russia partnership agreement.
The West faces an existential threat from Putin and Russia.
It is time to wakeup and abandon the pacifism and appeasement demonstrated to date, and to begin to defend the democratic civilization of Europe, the U.S. and other countries.
It is time to take effective action that will lead Russia to end its occupation of the Ukraine.
It is time to uphold the international legal, political, and economic order of the U.N. system, the U.N. Charter norm prohibiting the threat or use of force across international frontiers, and the human rights of the citizens of the Donbas and the Crimea.
The Trenchant Observer