By Taras Klochko, Espreso TV, June 18, 2014
All the peace-loving statements voiced by President Petro Poroshenko have image-making as their primary goal. It is highly unlikely that the president seriously expects to implement his peace plan.
From the first days of his presidency, Poroshenko has constantly stressed the need for a peaceful settlement through negotiations of the situation in the East. Already in his inaugural speech, Poroshenko presented the “presidential peace plan” whose essence is quite simple: a ceasefire, amnesty for terrorists who have not committed serious crimes, and negotiations, but certainly not with terrorists like Girkin or Bolotov, but with “influential people in the East” who are ready to establish order.
Today the president made another peace-loving statement about the possibility of a unilateral ceasefire. “The plan begins with my order for a unilateral ceasefire. Immediately afterwards we need to receive confirmation of support for the plan from all the participants in the events in the Donbas — in a very short time,” said Poroshenko. He explained that during the short period of the truce the terrorists need to lay down their arms, and those who are Russian citizens need to leave the country promptly through a specially created corridor.
Poroshenko’s peace-loving initiatives are not finding broad support among the Ukrainian public, since most people understand perfectly that there is no one on the other side with whom to conduct major negotiations. The only people who have some control over the seized territories in the Donbas are the terrorists, with whom negotiations are impossible a priori, and negotiations with all the other Donbas representatives, no matter how reputable they may have been before the terrorist war, are now simply a waste of time.
Rather, the “president’s peace plan” is only part of Poroshenko’s PR campaign. The “dove of peace” image is useful for the president in order to conduct more effective negotiations, not only directly with Putin — because similar announcements remove a certain trump card from the Russian “colleague” regarding the “punitive operation in the East” — but also with the pacifist and peace-loving Europe.
And Poroshenko and his team cannot avoid understanding the obvious. Any truce in the East will only play into the hands of terrorists, whose losses incurred after successful ATO (antiterrorist) operations are being replenished with new manpower and equipment that is arriving constantly through the porous Russian border. And the only thing that will force the terrorists to cease their activities is a direct order from the Kremlin, which is unlikely, and not any peace-loving plan from Kyiv.
This is precisely why, in declaring a truce and a unilateral ceasefire, Poroshenko does not fail to add that this is possible only when the Ukrainian military establishes full control of the border.
It is important to remember that, despite all the peace-loving declarations by Poroshenko, ATO activity intensified after the elections and several cities were freed of terrorists, including the strategically important Mariupol. Furthermore, Ukrainian troops continue to advance along the border and to fire on militant sites.
Of course, on orders of the commander in chief, a unilateral ceasefire can take place even without waiting for control of the border. Here the exact duration of the announced truce will be important. If Poroshenko gives the terrorists more than 12 hours of respite, they will have enough time to strengthen their positions and receive more reinforcements. Moreover, there is practically no doubt that the terrorists will break the truce themselves under conditions where they will have more opportunities to carry out the next terrorist operation. Therefore, if the truce does take place, it needs to be of very short duration because every additional hour of peace for the terrorists can cost the life of a Ukrainian soldier as well as civilians. Twelve hours are more than enough to reach final conclusions and to demonstrate to the entire world that the terrorists have no desire to resolve the conflict through peaceful means.
Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov has already criticized Poroshenko’s proposal, demanding not only a temporary but a “comprehensive ceasefire and subsequent negotiations.” In pure Goebbels-like fashion, Lavrov likened the temporary truce and the disarmament of terrorists to “ethnic cleansing” and expressed the hope that Poroshenko will not “be led” by those who carry out similar scenarios.
All this proves, once again, that the only way to achieve peace in the Donbas is by carrying out the ATO operation to complete victory. All the peace talk games are not likely to make any difference in the current situation.
Translation: Anna Mostovych