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The Little Ceasefire That Couldn't

Wanted Poster or Ceasefire Agreement? Brechtian Absurdity in Ukraine. (IMAGE: Tobis Klangfilm)

By Preston Clive

Coming Soon: "UKRAINIAN CEASEFIRE II, The Musical: Last Tango In Mariupol." 

Well that was fun, wasn't it? Of course, ceasefires aren't to be adhered to, they are there to make the subsequent fighting all the more exciting, with an air of the delicious forbidden. Kind of like a quick verboten affair, the squeezing off of a few mortars and spraying of automatic weapons fire has the hint of the orgasmic and the sinful--one assumes, at least from Moscow's point of view.

"I am going to stop fighting in a moment, I just want to check something. Just give me a minute; I just want to clean the barrel of this light artillery here. Nothing cleans barrels better than firing shells through them--they scrub the barrel from stem to stern like no infantry grunt can with his big oily pipe cleaner."

None of this stuff is actually funny, as it is terribly sad. People are dying. The Russians are having their way with Eastern Ukraine pretty much at will, and Ukraine is essentially powerless to stop it. Kiev cannot even supply the eastern regions of the country with gas, Ukrainian state gas firm Naftogaz said, because of the damage wrought on their infrastructure by the fighting between state forces and the eastern rebels. 

After taking possession of the major railway hub of Debaltseve, separatist forces are now wreaking havoc down to the south to, it looks clearly, take control of the coastal town of Mariupol. Some are claiming this is to complete the constructing of a vertical front to give the separatist forces a straight north south corridor down to create easy access to the Crimea.

Kiev is clearly rattled by the day's developments and is sending up a rocket calling for UN Peacekeepers to put boots on the ground to insure that the terms of the ceasefire hold. After the easy snagging of the Debaltseve hub, Poroshenko is obviously concerned for the prospect of more land grabs between now and whenever the military ceasefire actually--if soon--takes hold. 

In direct response, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said that the implementation of the February 12th ceasefire agreement lays directly in the hands of the Ukraine, and rejected the insertion of UN Peacekeeping boots on the ground as a direct violation of the Minsk agreement .  .  .  one which, one assumes, would constitute an easy opportunity for Russia and the separatists to tear up the ceasefire en toto and go about their business as desired. From a NYTimes report on the latest developments on the ground and on the phones:

 "This is an actual violation of the package of measures to implement the Minsk agreement," Denis Pushilin, a senior separatist figure, was quoted as saying by Russia's RIA news agency.

"And so we have a very negative attitude to this. Moreover we are ready to address the heads of state who were guarantors that Ukraine would meet its commitments."

With the Russian backed separatists gobbling up pieces of their "little brother" neighbor country--and with the Ukrainians calling for the UN while labeling the Russians as an "aggressor country" unfit to take part in peace-monitoring and ceasefire implementation, the European peacebrokers who worked on the Minsk deal frantically have got their work cut out for them. 

The Times article goes on:

Russia's ambassador to the United Nations was also quoted as saying that Poroshenko's proposal put into doubt Ukraine's resolve to fulfill the Minsk agreements.

Of course, rushing out and killing Ukrainians and surprise attacking/taking two key Ukrainian cities before the ink on the Minsk ceasefire agreement just signed has had a chance to dry in no way puts into doubt Moscow and the separatist rebels resolve to fulfill the Minsk agreements.

Between the rhetoric flying around the eurozone over the Greek bailout, and the diplomatic whoppers announced with completely straight faces over this Ukrainian "ceasefire," who needs Berthold Brecht, Jean Cocteau or Federico Fellini? We've got our own exercise in the surreal going on before our eyes.

Preston Clive