After a long negotiation last week amongst Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France in Minsk, Belarus, everything that was agreed upon, including a ceasefire, has been breached. The agreement would have created a buffer zone between rebels and Ukrainian troops but the problem was that the rebels had to go back to the front line that existed back in September. They did not seem to want to give their foothold away and decided to surround and conquer the city of Debaltseve on the first day of the ceasefire. Ukrainian troops had to fight their way out to retreat so they are not to blame in breaching the ceasefire. This being the 2nd ceasefire plan that has failed, obviously something else needs to be done that also doesn’t spark a massive war.
Ukrainian president Poroshenko suggested utilizing a UN peacekeeping force to enforce the ceasefire but it is simply not possible. Russia is on the UN Security Council with veto powers and can reject any peacekeeping plans. Also peacekeepers cannot be deployed if a ceasefire isn’t honored. Honestly, the root of this issue is Putin himself. He has a personal vendetta against the West since he was affected in a negative way by the fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of the Cold War. He wants the old Soviet nation back and if he cannot annex it to get it, he will create a strong economic union that rivals the EU. Ukraine would be an ideal partner but Putin believes that the West has influenced Russia’s neighbor, which is why he is being aggressive. Russia continues to deny their involvement in the conflict despite hard evidence proving it, such as weapon delivery and pictures of Russian military. Sanctions have affected Russia and in turn ruined this economic union already but it is not enough to stop them. It is sad that Putin will risk the wellbeing of his nation and its citizens to reach his goals.
What makes this all more difficult is that Ukraine is neither part of NATO or in the EU so there is not much another country can do other than provide non lethal aid. If a country provides lethal aid, it will inflame the conflict and possibly force the West and Russia into a nuclear standoff. That cannot happen, so I propose that the rebels claim the territory that they have gained except Debaltseve as Donetsk People’s Republic. That area did not seem to be strongly tied to Ukraine anyway. Also, if both sides can agree to that, there should be a DMZ, demilitarized zone, between Ukraine and the rebel territory. A DMZ would ensure that neither side advances any further. That still is not ideal but it is the best option on the table that could prevent further conflict. However, Putin and these rebels are the wildcard and there is no telling what they will do since they cannot seem to respect any agreements. For that reason, there is no simple solution to this crisis in Ukraine nor can there ever be since each solution will have so many real world consequences