The world’s great powers tried again at the Munich Security Conference to find a peaceful solution for East Ukraine where over 10,000 people have died in the multi-year conflict between the government in Kyiv and the pro-Russian separatists in the Donbass region.
“On Feb. 20 the ceasefire regime will start and withdrawal of heavy military hardware will also start … We have actively supported this decision and obviously expressed a conviction that this time, failure should not be allowed to take place,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said after talks with his Ukrainian, German and French counterparts in Munich, reports Reuters.
“All parties will use their influence to implement the agreement of the trilateral contact group from Feb 15,” German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel told reporters, referring to a body comprising Ukraine, Russia and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
“The aim is to have a ceasefire starting from Feb. 20 and to do what has long been agreed but never implemented: To withdraw the heavy weapons from the region, to secure them and enable the OSCE monitors to control where they are kept.”
The Ukrainian government over the last few years has greatly strengthened its military and has forced a stalemate that can only be broken by a peace agreement for federalization of the East or a full blown Russian invasion. Russian forces have backed the rebels in various ways, including Russian mercenaries and artillery fire from the Russian side of the border.
For its part, the Ukrainian government has most likely provoked recent fighting to make sure the incoming Trump administration will continue to support its efforts. President Trump has made comments that have caused Kyiv to be concerned over American support going forward.