The ceasefire agreed by Russia and Ukraine in Minsk earlier today is a welcome and necessary step in ending the suffering of those in eastern Ukraine. What matters now is that the ceasefire is enforced.
Without such enforcement, the agreement will have been a pointless exercise, just like the ceasefire agreed in Minsk in September 2014. More details will need to be disclosed on key elements of the agreement, which so far stipulates: a ceasefire will begin on Sunday, 15 February; all troops and heavy weapons will be withdrawn from eastern Ukraine; and, full control of the Russian-Ukrainian border will be returned to Kiev by the end of 2015.
In many respects, the ceasefire is a short-term solution to a long-term problem. The Ukraine crisis is merely a symptom of the wider confrontation which President Vladimir Putin seems determined to create between his country and the West. For this confrontation, the West needs a comprehensive strategy designed not only to ensure that a prosperous Ukraine is integrated into the Trans-Atlantic community but also to recognise the real danger Russia poses to the rules-based international system established since the end of the Cold War.
Dr Andrew Foxall, Director of the Russia Studies Centre at The Henry Jackson Society, commented:
“The Minsk ceasefire offers a glimmer of hope for Ukraine, but the West should be under no illusions that there is still an awful lot of work to be done to implement and enforce the agreement. Furthermore, the fundamental issue remains the same, and that is the threat Russia poses to Europe. We must not lose sight of the fact that the Ukraine crisis is merely a symptom of a much bigger problem.”