Yesterday saw the signing of a new, so-called Steinmeier Formula peace plan.
An agreed plan which on Wed and today, saw an immediate upsurge in firing by Russia’s forces.
The below OSCE graph gives a sense of that increased firing. It lists the number of ceasefire violations and explosions on Wed. Not helping matters, thus far today, the Ukrainian military have already recorded a sizable increase in firing along the front line. Darkness tonight is sure to add to that increase.
A Peace Plan Summary.
The name Steinmeier Formula originates from the name of Germany’s foreign minister (now the president). In 2016 Frank-Walter Steinmeier proposed a new version of the 2014/15 Minsk agreements. A simpler step by step peace process.
Main formula features.
1: Elections to be held in the occupied territories under Ukrainian law and supervision of the OSCE.
2: If the OSCE declare the elections and balloting to be free and fair, then a special self-governing status for the occupied regions will be initiated.
3: Ukraine will then get back control of its eastern border.
4: There will also be an exchange of prisoners.
5: Oct 1st: The formula agreement was signed by representatives of Ukraine, Russia, occupied territories of Luhansk and Donetsk and the OSCE.
6: An additional feature, is the withdrawal of both sides forces from several, hot spot, front line areas.
Check out this Radio Free Europe article for more info on the peace plan.
Stumbling blocks have already kicked in.
Ukraine’s president Zelenskyy has said elections wont take place until all Russia’s forces have left the country and Ukraine’s regained full control of the Ukrainian/Russian border. “There won’t be any elections under the barrel of a gun,” he’s reported as saying.
Russia’s Donetsk and Luhansk republics (see below) have chipped in and today declared “The Kyiv authorities will not get any control over the (Ukrainian/Russian) border.” As you can read, despite nothing having changed, they’re spinning the agreement as a victory for them.
So there we have it.
Early days (literally) but we’ve got an immediate and predictable impasse. Obviously, there’s no way free and fair elections can currently take place in Russia’s sham republics. Who will campaign for Ukraine? Who will count the votes? People there will understandably be too scared to vote for reunification with Ukraine for fear of reprisals.
Putin knows once he’s lost control of the border, he can kiss goodbye to any major influence over eastern Ukraine. Also, his potential to interfere in Ukraine as a whole, will be much reduced. (Russia has total control of 409km of the Ukrainian border).
Now I hope for the best and fingers crossed and all that… but to me, this peace plan, like the Minsk agreements, has the potential of buying more occupation time for Russia. If both sides are in deadlock over holding elections and access to the Ukrainian border, then as we’ve seen over the last 5 years, nothing will change.
I’d be great, but I can’t see Putin any time soon withdrawing his forces and stopping all military & financial support for the occupied regions. Who knows, maybe he will? After all, it’s costing Russia a kings ransom every single day.
As for the front line. If both sides pull their forces back and the fighting stops, to me this also benefits Russia more than Ukraine. Accepting that it’s unquestionably better for those living in the conflict zone, peace may herald a heavier price for Ukraine to pay. As we’ve seen in Georgia, Russia first invaded the country, then created the South Ossetia puppet state. Since then things have settled down and the region gets little, meaningful attention.
So ask yourself a question. Who now is pushing hard to stop Russia’s part occupation of Georgia? Answer: No one is. And that means there’s a danger, the world, its leaders and media (if they haven’t done so all ready), will likewise move on and FORGET about Russia’s occupation of eastern Ukraine.