Good to report the July 27th Ceasefire is still mostly holding.
Most days we continue to see the odd firing incident, and the OSCE has reported occasional modest spikes in ceasefire violations. Still, these mainly involve small arms firing and a handful of explosions. The Ukrainian military report they haven’t yet returned fire and have not sustained any combat casualties due to enemy fire. Sadly several soldiers have been wounded due to triggering explosive devices, but these would appear to be unrelated to Russia-led forces activity during the ceasefire.
Now call me cynical, but it’s looking more and more likely that Russia’s ordered this ceasefire to hold until the next Normandy Format Peace Summit. This all quiet on the eastern front will create a suitable overoptimistic summit mood, meaning Putin will probably again escape any real pressure to act from Macron, Merkel & Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy. If the next summit takes place in 2020, Putin will have gotten through yet another year without having to do anything to bring about peace in eastern Ukraine. But what the hell do I know about anything and we must wait and see what happens next.
We end on a more positive note.
Whatever the motives behind the continued ceasefire, it has created an opportunity for increased repairs to civilian infrastructure. Repairing water & gas piping and electric cables often involve the use of mechanical diggers, and heavy equipment, something which is hazardous to use when bullets are flying around, and the areas littered with unexploded shells and mines.
The below pictures from this week give a sense of the difficult challenges involved in simply repairing a water pipe. Full credit must go to the civilian and state emergency workers engaged in these hazardous operations, along with support from the Ukrainian military and OSCE monitors who arrange local ceasefires to enable it to go ahead. This week Ukrainian services repaired a pipe pumping water to a region in occupied Ukraine.
One of the more surreal aspects to this on-going war is the Russia-led republics of Donetsk & Luhansk every month handing over large amounts of (Russian taxpayers) money to Ukraine in payment for water used in their territories. Russia paying for Ukrainians to drink water is one of Putin’s less glorious achievements. Payment for the water is handed over at checkpoints on the front line.