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Agreement between Ukraine, DPR and LPR on additional ceasefire control measures

At the meeting of the contact groups which took place in videoconference format on 22 July 2020, Ukraine, the DPR and LPR (Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics) finally managed, after months of negotiations, to agree on additional measures to allow better control of the ceasefire in the Donbass. These additional measures will enter into force on 27 July at 00:01 a.m. Kiev time.

An agreement on additional ceasefire monitoring measures in the Donbass obtained with forceps

After Ukraine dragged its feet for six months, and nothing seemed to be won until the very end of the contact group meeting on 22 July, Kiev finally managed to reach an agreement with the two Donbass republics to approve additional ceasefire control measures.

Measures made necessary by Ukraine’s manifest inability to respect the so-called indefinite truce agreed in July 2019. The figures provided by the DPR representation in the JCCC (Joint Ceasefire Control and Coordination Centre) on violations of the “indefinite” truce in one year are edifying.

Thus from 21 July 2019 to 20 July 2020, the Ukrainian army violated the ceasefire 3,879 times, and fired 34,189 rounds of ammunition, including 10,102 of a calibre prohibited by the Minsk agreements! The shellings killed five DPR civilians and wounded 60 others. They also damaged 121 pieces of vital infrastructure, 753 houses and totally destroyed 37 of them. This is far too much for a total and permanent truce.

The worst thing is that not only has the Ukrainian army not been able to observe the ceasefire as soon as it came into force, but it has also failed to comply with the other measures of the agreement, such as the ban on sabotage-reconnaissance operations (just 10 days ago), the publication of orders to respect the ceasefire, disciplinary measures against soldiers who violate the truce, or a ban on the placing of heavy weapons in or near the localities.

That is why this agreement on additional ceasefire control measures in Donbass was so important.

The agreement consists of seven measures:
1. Prohibition of all offensive or reconnaissance operations, as well as a ban on the use of all flying objects (aircraft, helicopters, UAVs).
2. Prohibition of all forms of firing, including sniper fire.
3. Prohibition of the deployment of heavy weapons in and around localities, especially near civilian infrastructure including schools, kindergartens, hospitals and other buildings open to the public.
4. Application of disciplinary measures in case of ceasefire violations and notification of such disciplinary measures to the coordinator of the trilateral contact group who will notify the other members.
5. Establishment and activation of a coordination mechanism to respond to ceasefire violations with the assistance of the JCCC.
6. Response fire in case of offensive operations (i.e. any attempt to change the position of troops at the time of this declaration, including deployment of engineer equipment to dig new positions, or any movement or displacement of armed persons to enemy positions) shall be permitted only if conducted on the order of the command of the Ukrainian Armed Forces or the DPR and LPR People’s Militia after an unsuccessful attempt to use the above-mentioned coordination mechanism. The Trilateral Contact Group shall be notified of the promulgation of such orders.
7. The above-mentioned measures cannot be totally or partially disavowed by other orders, however secret they may be.

The command of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the command of the Donbass People’s Militia shall make public the orders listing all these additional measures and confirm that the ceasefire orders are in accordance with them.

One week’s work is needed to repair the water pipe in Gorlovka

The agreement is timely as experts from the Donbass Water Company, after examining the water pipe that was severely damaged yesterday by a shelling by the Ukrainian army, have estimated that it will take a week of work once Ukraine has given security guarantees to carry out the repairs.

As Kiev provided the security guarantees this morning, work has already begun, as can be seen in this video provided by the Mayor of Gorlovka, Ivan Prikhodko, which I have subtitled in French:

It remains to be hoped that the fact that the water cut, due to the damage to the pipeline, also affects the territory under Kiev’s control will prompt the Ukrainian army to observe a total truce in this area until the work is completed. Otherwise the week could quickly turn into weeks or even months.

Unfortunately, as with the additional measures of ceasefire control in the Donbass, I fear that Ukraine will once again fail to comply with what it has signed or approved.

A large part of these additional measures were already included in the measures for a complete and permanent ceasefire that Ukraine signed in July 2019, which it has not respected.

The list of Kiev’s breaches of the documents and agreements it signed concerning the war in the Donbass is so long that it would take a phone book to record them all. From the Minsk agreements 1 and 2, through the Steinmeier formula, the repeated truces and ceasefires, the joint declarations at the end of the Normandy Format meetings, and the agreement to create the Consultative Council, here is a sample of the evidence that Ukraine’s signature is not worth much.

And these fears are reinforced by a post from the Ukrainian Telegram channel Rezident, which states, quoting a source in the Zelensky administration, that Ukraine has had to sign the additional  measures of ceasefire control in the Donbass “because of pressure from European partners”, and that this mechanism will not work because “the ceasefire is constantly being broken” and it is “impossible to control who caused the shootings”.

To put it plainly, in the face of the facts proving that Ukraine is not respecting the ceasefire, and which have been pointed out many times by Russia, France and Germany have told Kiev to make an effort because there its reluctance to apply the Minsk agreements is too visible and Moscow can use this point against it.

But this agreement has a good chance of ending up like all the other agreements, formulas and other protocols signed by Ukraine over the last five years in the framework of the peaceful resolution of the conflict in the Donbass, that is to say, in oblivion. Let us hope that this agreement is not just another communication stunt by Ukraine to make it appear that it is implementing the Minsk agreements, but like many people in the DPR, I very much doubt it.

Christelle Néant

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