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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Ukraine Crisis: Nato Top General says Truce 'in Name Only'

The answer to my question raised on Tuesday, Is the War in Ukraine Over?, is apparently NO! But there is reason to hope.
General Philip Breedlove: "The situation in Ukraine is not good right now...
We have a ceasefire in name only"
Nato's most senior military commander has said the ceasefire between Ukraine and pro-Russian separatists currently exists 'in name only'.

Gen Philip Breedlove said the numbers of artillery rounds fired recently was comparable to periods before the truce came into effect two weeks ago.

He added, however, that he was "hopeful" about a new agreement signed in the early hours of Saturday.

Ukraine accuses Russia of arming separatists, but Russia denies this. Russia denies everything!

More than 3,000 people have died in fighting in two eastern regions since April.

A truce was agreed on 5 September but there have been repeated violations since then.

Russian return
Gen Breedlove, Nato's supreme allied commander in Europe, was speaking after a meeting with Nato military chiefs in Vilnius, Lithuania.

"The situation in Ukraine is not good right now," he told reporters.

"The number of events, and the number of rounds fired and the artillery used across the past few days match some of the pre-ceasefire levels. The ceasefire is still there in name, but what is happening on the ground is quite a different story," he added.

He said that since last week, some Russian forces inside Ukraine had returned to Russia but remained available to "bring their military force to bear on Ukraine".

Nato has plans to bolster its military presence in countries bordering Russia, including the Baltic states, which used to be part of the Soviet bloc.
Ukrainian soldiers drive an Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC)
in Kramatorsk town, Donetsk region
The new agreement seeks to stop the repeated violations of a ceasefire agreed on 5 September.

Former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma (c) presented the ceasefire plan after late-night talks.

Gen Breedlove praised a new nine-point ceasefire memorandum which was signed in Minsk on Saturday morning.

The deal was reached after late-night talks between representatives of Ukraine, Russia, eastern separatists and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

The agreement includes setting up a 30km (19-mile) buffer zone, a ban on overflights of part of eastern Ukraine by military aircraft and the withdrawal of "foreign mercenaries" on both sides.
From left, Russian Ambassador to Ukraine Mikhail Zurabov, former Ukrainian
President Leonid Kuchma and the Organization for Security and Cooperation
in Europe (OSCE) envoy Heidi Tagliavini, meet with the media
 after peace talks in Ukraine in Minsk, Belarus, early Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014
Moscow has repeatedly denied sending Russian troops to Ukraine or arming Ukrainian separatists.

The Russian government says that any Russians fighting inside Ukraine are doing so in a private capacity. 

Minsk memorandum: Key points

To pull heavy weaponry 15km back each side of the line of contact, creating a 30km security zone
To ban offensive operations
To ban flights by combat aircraft over the security zone
To set up an OSCE monitoring mission
To withdraw all foreign mercenaries from the conflict zone