Vitaly Portnikov: Russia has no intention of adhering to the upcoming ceasefire agreement
On July 22, the Trilateral Contact Group held a video conference during which all the parties agreed on a new and comprehensive ceasefire in the Donbas. In particular, the parties – the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the so called “DNR/LNR authorities” – agreed to ban offensive, reconnaissance and sabotage operations, as well as operations of any types of aerial vehicles of the sides.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy really believes that a genuine ceasefire will be established and observed in the Donbas after July 27.
“This is critically important for us,” said the Ukrainian president during an official trip to the Donbas with Swiss President Simonetta Sommaruga.
Zelenskyy is absolutely right: it is critical for Ukraine that the “DNR/LNR” terrorists stop the incessant shelling and gunfire in the war zone. It is these daily shellings and skirmishes that create tension on the demarcation line and in Ukrainian society. The shelling will stop, and most Ukrainians will forget about the Donbas, just as they have forgotten about occupied Crimea, which only pops up in the news when the issue of water supply to the peninsula becomes an urgent matter. However, if the shelling stops, Putin’s proxy forces in the Donbas will cease to be a convenient lever of political pressure on Ukraine.
That is why the shelling will not stop. The Kremlin is not composed of idiots who are ready to give up such an effective lever of pressure without Ukraine’s full capitulation. That is also why no ceasefire agreements have lasted more than a few weeks or even days. The same fate awaits any new ceasefire agreements.
So, why does Russia agree to these ceasefirs? Simply because Russia is bound to win no matter how events develop. If the Ukrainian army responds to shelling, the occupying forces will be able to accuse the Ukrainian side of violating the agreement and Zelenskyy of not wanting to end the “civil war in the Donbas”. This is, of course, will also be a signal to Zelenskyy’s pro-Russian supporters that they can only count on pro-Russian leader Viktor Medvedchuk and should vote for Medvedchuk’s Opposition Platform-For Life (OPZZh) party in the upcoming local elections.
If the Ukrainian army does not respond to shelling, waiting in the trenches like sitting ducks, the conflict between the government and Ukrainian patriots will intensify, and will inevitably lead to a social explosion – perhaps not immediately, but certainly after the tenth, fifteenth or twentieth death or arrest of soldiers who decide to respond to the shelling. This scenario also works in Moscow’s favour, whose main goal is to destabilize the Ukrainian government and trigger the collapse of the Ukrainian state.
Zelenskyy, who still hopes to reach an agreement with Putin, has once again fallen into Moscow’s trap, from which he will not be able to extract himself without significant losses. At the same time, this incompetent president is pulling Ukraine, all Ukrainian citizens and Ukrainian soldiers into the same deadly trap.
Translated by: Christine Chraibi