Friday

20th May 2022

EU and US hail implementation of Ukraine 'truce'

  • OSCE says situation 'calm' except for 'a few explosions and sporadic small-arms fire' (Photo: Christopher Bobyn)

The EU and US have welcomed the halt of rogue elections in Russia-occupied Ukraine, but concessions could harm pro-Western leaders in Kiev.

The EU foreign service said on Tuesday (6 October) the election decision "offers renewed hope for a sustainable political settlement".

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Mark Toner, a State Department spokesman, said the US "welcomes" the election move.

"People living in the separatist-controlled areas deserve to pick their local officials in elections that meet international standards".

Local chiefs in the Russia-controlled Donetsk and Luhansk "republics" in east Ukraine earlier on Tuesday announced they’ll no longer hold their own votes in late October and early November, as planned.

The OSCE, the international monitoring group on the conflict, also reported that both sides are pulling back weapons.

It said the situation is "calm", except for "a few explosions and sporadic small-arms fire".

In a sign of confidence in the ceasefire, local authorities in Russia-occupied Dokuchaievsk told monitors that displaced people are coming home. They said the town's population is 21,000, compared to 13,000 in January, and 25,000 before the fighting.

The developments come after French, German, Russian, and Ukrainian leaders held talks in Paris last Friday.

The new "truce" resulted in modification of the "Minsk 2" ceasefire accord.

Under Minsk, rebels were to hold elections under Ukrainian law, foreign forces were to leave Ukraine, and Russia was to give it back control of its borders by the end of the year.

Under Paris, Ukraine is to pass a special law on the Donetsk and Luhansk votes and implementation is to lag into 2016.

Tuesday's EU statement noted the special elections must be held "in line with Ukrainian legislation and OSCE standards under ODIHR [a branch of the OSCE] monitoring".

It also said the special vote will mark "a fundamental step towards full implementation of the Minsk agreements".

Its Minsk comment is a sign the EU is prepared to relax Russia economic sanctions early next year.

For his part, Sergio Mattarella, the Italian president, told the Tass news agency on Tuesday "it's important to restore a climate of partnership and full trust [with Russia]".

Xavier Bettel, the Luxembourg PM, also discussed EU sanctions relief when he met Russian president Vladimir Putin in Sochi on Tuesday.

The tiny Duchy is, on paper, the third largest foreign investor in Russia after Cyprus and the Netherlands, due to funds channelled to Russia through its financial sector.

The US is still working with the EU on extra sanctions if the truce unravels.

Robert Person, a Russia expert at the US military academy at West Point, wrote in the Washington Post on Tuesday the new deal should be seen "skeptically".

He noted that if pro-Western leaders stay in power in Kiev, despite a frozen conflict in the east, it "would [still] be a major failure of Russian foreign policy".

Meanwhile, the special law on Donbas and Luhansk elections could harm Ukraine leader Petro Poroshenko.

If he gives the Russia-controlled regimes what they want - a say on what they call their "foreign policy" and blanket amnesty for what Kiev calls their "terrorists" - he risks a nationalist backlash.

But if he doesn't, he risks erosion of EU support on grounds of Paris non-compliance.

Nationalist protests in Kiev in September, over Poroshenko's new law on decentralisation, resulted in violence outside parliament which killed three policemen.

EU states warn of looming food-price crisis

Prices of cereals, fertilisers, and oilseed have shot up drastically in several European markets due to Russia's war on Ukraine, prompting some member states to seek EU aid.

EU plans to jointly invest in defence capabilities

EU countries need to refill stockpiles after several member states supplied weapons to Ukraine in its fight with Russia, and to phase out existing Soviet-era weapons systems, and reinforce air defence.

UK and EU edge closer to trade war over Northern Ireland

The EU warning comes after the UK government escalated the conflict over the Northern Ireland protocol — a set of post-Brexit trade rules — by saying it will unilaterally pass a law to change the EU-UK trade treaty.

Podcast

Ultraconservatives in Putin's shadow

Vladimir Putin's Ukraine war has threatened to be a public relations disaster for hard-right gatherings like the Conservative Political Action Conference — now meeting in Budapest and featuring Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán, who remains highly-cordial with the Kremlin.

Opinion

Will 'Putin's Nato' follow Warsaw Pact into obscurity?

Valdimir Putin's equivalent to Nato — the Collective Security Treaty Organization of Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Armenia, Tajikistan, and Belarus — is convening in Moscow next week to give cover that Russia is not alone in its war against Ukraine.

News in Brief

  1. Half of Gazprom's clients have opened rouble accounts
  2. Macron seeks 'quick' EU answer on Moldova application
  3. German chancellor to tour Western Balkans
  4. UN: more than 8,000 civilians killed or injured in Ukraine
  5. EU agrees new minimum gas storage target
  6. EU justice agency to have more roles on war crimes
  7. More than 50,000 Ukrainians refused entry into EU in 2021
  8. Germany open to EU treaty change 'if required'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic delegation visits Nordic Bridges in Canada
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersClear to proceed - green shipping corridors in the Nordic Region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers agree on international climate commitments
  4. UNESDA - SOFT DRINKS EUROPEEfficient waste collection schemes, closed-loop recycling and access to recycled content are crucial to transition to a circular economy in Europe
  5. UiPathNo digital future for the EU without Intelligent Automation? Online briefing Link

Latest News

  1. MEPs urge sanctioning the likes of ex-chancellor Schröder
  2. MEPs call for a more forceful EU response to Kremlin gas cut
  3. Catalan leader slams Pegasus use: 'Perhaps I'm still spied on'
  4. More EU teams needed to prosecute Ukraine war crimes
  5. French EU presidency struggling on asylum reforms
  6. EU states warn of looming food-price crisis
  7. Ultraconservatives in Putin's shadow
  8. Nordic Bridges unveil latest highlights of Spring programme

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us