16 Feb

Chancellor Angela Merkel has often been accused of hesitancy. But in Minsk this week, she committed herself to helping find a way to quiet the weapons in Ukraine. The result was a cease-fire. But it is fragile and may ultimately be disadvantageous for Ukraine.

The problem has four syllables: Debaltseve. German Chancellor Angela Merkel can now pronounce it without difficulties, as can French President François Hollande. Debaltseve proved to be one of the thorniest issues during the negotiations in Minsk on Wednesday night and into Thursday. Indeed, the talks almost completely collapsed because of Debaltseve. Ultimately, Debaltseve may end up torpedoing the deal that was worked out in the end.

Debaltseve is a small town in eastern Ukraine, held by 6,000 government troops, or perhaps 8,000. Nobody wants to say for sure. It is the heart of an army that can only put 30,000 soldiers into the field, a weak heart. Until Sunday of last week, that heart was largely encircled by pro-Russian separatists and the troops could only be supplied by way of highway M03. Then, Monday came.
Separatist fighters began advancing across snowy fields towards the village of Lohvynove, a tiny settlement of 30 houses hugging the M03. The separatists stormed an army checkpoint and killed a few officers. They then dug in — and the heart of the Ukrainian army was surrounded.

The situation in Debaltseve plunged the Ukrainian army into a desperate, almost hopeless, position, as the negotiators in Minsk well knew. Indeed, it was the reason the talks were so urgently necessary. Debaltseve was one of the reasons Merkel and Hollande launched their most recent diplomatic offensive nine days ago. The other reason was the American discussion over the delivery of weapons to the struggling Ukrainian army.

Debaltseve and the weapons debate had pushed Europe to the brink of a dangerous escalation — and the fears of a broader war were growing rapidly. A well-armed proxy war between Russia and the West in Ukraine was becoming a very real possibility. A conflict which began with the failure of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement and the protests on Maidan Square in Kiev, and one which escalated with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s annexation of the Crimea Peninsula, has long since become the most dangerous stand-off Europe has seen in several decades. It is possible that it could ultimately involve the US and Russia facing each other across a line of demarcation.

6 Responses to “Debaltseve”

  1. giselzitrone February 17, 2015 at 11:57 pm #

    Wünsche dir liebe Ute einen schönen Dienstag hoffe es geht dir gut liebe Grüße von mir Gislinde

    • auntyuta February 18, 2015 at 5:54 am #

      Danke, liebe Gislinde. Bei uns ist es immer noch sehr schön warm. Das mag ich sehr. Ich mag mich nur nicht irgendwo lange aufhalten wo die airconditioning auf sehr kalt eingestellt ist. Ich kann keinen kalten Wind vertragen! Gestern war ja Fastnacht. Heute ist bei uns schon Mittwoch.
      Liebe Grüsse, Uta 🙂

  2. stuartbramhall February 18, 2015 at 8:19 am #

    There’s absolutely no doubt the Ukrainian military lacks the ability to defeat the eastern Ukraine separatists. Poreshenko is already facing major protests in western Ukraine for his compulsory conscription policy. No one agrees with a war in which Ukrainians are killing other Ukrainians, no matter which language they speak.

    This left him only 2 options: to request and accept US and NATO military assistance or to make a genuine effort to stick to the cease fire this time.

    • auntyuta February 18, 2015 at 1:19 pm #

      Thanks for commenting, Stuart.
      It looks like that without US and NATO military assistance Ukrainians cannot win against the separatists who have close ties to Russia.
      Do the EU and the US really want to help the whole of Ukraine, not just militarily but economically too?
      At what price do they want the fighting to stop? Who really gains from all this fighting? Most of the Ukrainian population suffers a great deal. For what?
      It seems that Hungary, a EU member, is now seeking trade agreements with Russia. Why could Ukraine not have done this, instead of all this fighting?
      Is all this just a trade war, or what?
      It seems to me that a lot depends on what is going to happen to Debaltseve. Russia would probably like to see that the Ukrainian troops, that are still in Debaltseve, are being allowed to leave and go home. That would mean the separatists would be in full possession of Debaltseve. How important is it going to be to the Kiev government to hold onto

      • stuartbramhall February 18, 2015 at 4:49 pm #

        When the democratically elected prime minister of Ukraine opted to signed a trade agreement with Russia, rather than the EU, the State Dept and CIA instigated a coup (with the help of local fascists and Nazis) to remove him from power and install a US puppet:

        Following the installation of the US-friendly government, Monsanto and Dow took over Ukraine’s biotech industry with their GMO crops and US oil companies flooding in with equipment to to set up fracking rigs.

        See and

        If Ukraine had signed the trade deal with Russia, it would have been off limits to US corporate exploitation.

        No one in Ukraine likes the new fascist government, nor the austerity imposed by the IMF, nor the GMO crops or fracking rigs (at present Poreshenko is facing increasing protest activity by residents of western Ukriane). However only Russian-speaking groups in eastern Ukraine were sufficiently organized to mount armed resistance.

      • auntyuta February 18, 2015 at 4:59 pm #

        Thank you so much, Stuart, for all these links.
        ” . . . Monsanto and Dow took over Ukraine’s biotech industry with their GMO crops and US oil companies flooding in with equipment to to set up fracking rigs. . . . ”
        This gives a whole new perspective to the increasing protest movements!

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