How’s that Steinmeier Formula peace plan coming along?
Well the firing sure hasn’t stopped, so after 5 years, not much has changed.
Here’s a roundup of what’s been happening.
After the Oct 1st signing of the Steinmeier Formula by Ukraine, Russia, Russia’s republics in occupied Ukraine and the OSCE, we saw an instant and sizable increase in firing by Russia’s forces. This will no doubt be the Kremlin wanting to nullify any world stage benefit Ukraine’s president Zelenskyy obtained from pushing this new peace initiative.
On the controversial withdrawal of Ukrainian forces, yesterday both sides were due to pull back from around the villages of Petrivske & Zolote. However, as seen below, the OSCE report this didn’t happen. Due to Russia’s forces continued and increased firing, the Ukrainian army didn’t agree to pull back. To me this is the right and proper decision. So for now, we’ll just have to see what happens next.
Above pic shows the OSCE yesterday arriving in occupied Petrivske. Due to the on-going construction of major new fortifications, Russia’s forces have for several weeks stopped the OSCE accessing the area. And stopped them viewing their static camera which films activity/firing there. Yesterday however, ever keen to show how propaganda nice they are, they finally let the OSCE in.
Wed saw a good deal of firing along the front line, inc the now standard use of mortars and artillery by Russia’s forces. This week has seen a marginal reduction in their firing attacks, but at 24, it’s still at the same level prior to the Steinmeier Formula signing.
Below are some recent ceasefire violations (firing) stats from the OSCE.
Oct 4th: 2,000+ violations, which is over double the number from 2018.
Last weekend. Huge jump in firing incidents, with around 4,500 recorded, along with around 1,000 explosions.
In Ukraine, there’s a good deal of frustration and indeed anger at the governments willingness to pull its troops back. We’ve seen several large demos and people living along the front line have publicly voiced their fears. Much of the anger stems from the withdrawal process having already been shown to be flawed. In 2014/15, the so-called Minsk agreements created what became known as the grey zone. This was an area of land between the front line designated as not to be occupied by either sides military. Unfortunately, villages within it soon became cut off from the outside world. Caught in the middle of both sides firing towards each other, public services like buses, medical facilities along with shops and employment opportunities etc… stopped operating and dried up. Those that could leave, did so, leaving the predominantly elderly residents to fend for themselves. Then gradually, bit by bit, both sides eventually occupied the villages and the grey zone again became the front line.
On a more positive note, Ukraine’s said Ukrainian police will control the demilitarized areas under their control. And should Russia’s forces show any signs of advancing, the army will instantly move back.
When local ceasefires are adhered to, there are benefits.
At Stanytsia Luhanska, the damaged bridge crossing used by thousands of pedestrians every day is getting rebuilt. As seen below, a temp bridge (on the left) has been constructed by Ukraine and works now started on rebuilding the main bridge structure. Ukraine controls the side where the tractor is and Russia’s forces the other side, beyond the gap. Both sides have withdrawn their old military positions overlooking the bridge. But right on cue, Russia’s forces have since positioned a blue metal container (seen in pic and video) on their edge of the bridge. This is clearly a disguised firing position. That aside, there has been no firing in the bridge area for several months now.
This means, the Kremlin has the ability to order its forces to stop firing any time. Naturally for Russia, improved access to its occupied territory is welcome. People able to travel back and forth to buy goods and trade can only improve the lot of those living there and also bring in much needed additional revenue.
Live feed video of the work at Stanytsia Luhanska.
This front line crossing is situated in Ukraine’s Luhansk province.
Header picture shows a Ukrainian soldier in the now destroyed industrial zone in the town of Avdiivka.