Wednesday, September 3, 2014

3/9/104: Vladimir Putin's 7-points Plan for Ceasefire

Here's the official 'Putin Plan' for addressing the issue of ceasefire in Eastern Ukraine:

My translation:

The plan was presented by the President of Russia "during a press conference/meeting with the reporters covering the results of his working visit to Mongolia".

"In order to end the bloodshed and to stabilise the situation in the South-East of Ukraine, I believe that the conflict parties must immediately agree and coordinate the following actions:

1. Stop active offensive operations of the armed forces, armed militia groups from the south-east of Ukraine in direction of Donetsk and Luhansk.

2. Remove the armed units of the Ukrainian security forces to a distance that precludes the possibility of their firing artillery and using multiple rocket launchers against civilian areas.

3. Provide full and objective implementation of international enforcement of the parties compliance with the conditions of cease-fire and monitoring of the situation in the created safety zone.

4. Exclude the use of military aircraft against civilians and settlements in the conflict zone.

5. Organise exchange of the prisoners based on the formula "all for all" without any preconditions.

6. Open humanitarian corridors for the movement of refugees and the delivery of humanitarian supplies to the cities and other settlements of Donbass - Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

7. Facilitate sending to the affected Donbass region of repair crews to restore social and life-supporting infrastructure, to assist them in preparing for the winter."

A list which has been aired, in parts and bits, before.

Key stumbling block here is what will the militias have to do. It is crucial to note that the plan does not call for a symmetric withdrawal of forces. There is a symmetric ceasefire, not a unilateral one, but no symmetric withdrawal of armed units. The separatists are, therefore, allowed under the plan to hold their current positions, but will have to uphold the ceasefire. The above does not state their artillery and troops will have to be withdrawn too. This is one of major weaknesses in the plan - intentional or not.

But symmetric withdrawal will also create some problems: if everyone is gone, who will provide security and ensure law-and-order in the areas? Also, if the separatists do withdraw, their forces will be heavily concentrated in a much smaller area than the Ukrainian army, making them a sitting duck for a snap air assault. While 'artillery-range' cushion will allow some protection for them, it is no barrier to longer range missile and aircraft.

There are other points that remain unclear or wanting.

Chief amongst them is what happens to the Russian and other 'volunteers'? Are they to be withdrawn? If so - when? Presumably this can take place after the international control & monitoring are set up. Preferably before. But none of this is in the plan.

Another point, the international enforcement presence will have to come from somewhere. UN would be the firs to come to mind. But UN won't be a natural active enforcer. For example, if the 'repairs crews' were to come in with intentions other than 'preparing infrastructure for winter' - how will the UN peacekeeping force secure the area if Ukrainian army can't secure it?

And so on... many other issues remain open in the plan... some points of the plan are a good starting positions for an immediate ceasefire, but the devil is in the details...

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