Russian-backed separatists are indicating that they might be willing to make the current ceasefire permanent, according to Reuters:
A separatist representative to east Ukraine peace talks said on Wednesday an agreement signed with Kiev this week to withdraw more weapons could mean an end to the war with the Ukrainian government, separatist website DAN reported.
It said rebel leaders had signed the agreement to extend a pull-back of weapons to include tanks and smaller weapons systems, as part of a 12-point peace plan designed to end a conflict that has killed over 8,000 people since April 2014.
“This could mean the end of the war,” rebel representative Denis Pushilin was quoted as saying.
Pushilin’s remarks come a few days before Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is scheduled to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and French President Francois Hollande.
From where we stand, this looks like Putin and his allies trying to persuade the Europeans and Americans to back off. Pushilin’s message: the situation is deescalating, and giving more support to Kiev will only undo the progress that has been made.
As WRM wrote here recently, Putin’s “goal isn’t to conquer all of Ukraine or even part of it; his goal is to spoil Ukraine—to prevent it from taking the Westward road with success.” To keep Ukraine unstable, Putin doesn’t have to do a whole lot except keep the Europeans out and support rebels in eastern Ukraine so that he can create a crisis at any moment. “End of the war” thus could be a win for Russia.