Ceasefire for Ukraine agreed at Minsk summit
The negotiating partners at the Ukraine summit in Minsk agreed on a potential peace plan for eastern Ukraine on Thursday. A ceasefire will take effect on Sunday and the withdrawal of heavy arms from Donbass will begin. With this result both sides have demonstrated that they want peace, some commentators write. For others Russian President Vladimir Putin is the main beneficiary of the deal.
All sides want peace
The results of the Minsk talks have far exceeded expectations as far as Bloomberg View correspondent Leonid Beršidskij is concerned. In a commentary piece for the liberal daily Sme he writes: "Angela Merkel admitted after the talks that she has no illusions and that the ceasefire is a fragile one. The fervent Ukrainian patriots may see the deal as a betrayal. The separatists and the Russians who pull the strings will be hungry for more territorial gains and stronger guarantees that Ukraine won't enter Western alliances. But if the weapons are silenced it will give Ukraine the chance of a peaceful solution and Putin an economic reprieve. And the EU would foil the efforts of the hardliners in the US. ... These are all successes for which the participants deserve to be congratulated. Even if the ceasefire doesn't hold, the talks made it clear that there is a strong will to achieve a durable solution."
Minsk strengthens Europe's foreign policy
Europe is finally taking on the role of a global player, the liberal-conservative daily Corriere della Sera writes, and calls the talks in Minsk a success: "Merkel and Hollande, courageous representatives of an EU that remains divided even with a war raging right on its doorstep, have prevented the negotiations from failing. Thanks to the chancellor and the president Europe has emerged from the Minsk summit more influential and more self-confident. ... It will take strong political will on the part of the four participants and also the US for the agreements to be implemented. In the meantime Minsk has been generous to the Kremlin chief and met the news of the annexation of the Crimea with a deafening silence. But it would be a mistake to talk of winners and losers today. The game has only just kicked off."
Putin grants himself a tactical pause
The agreement reached at the Minsk summit won't stop the conflict in Ukraine because the Russian president's main objective remains the re-establishment of a sphere of influence in Eastern Europe, the conservative daily fears: "The Minsk II agreement will only succeed if Mr Putin has decided to tone down his confrontation with Ukraine and the west. But there is no sign he is willing to do so. Many factors, including Russia's economic crisis and the ferocious anti-western campaign now being waged in the Russia media, suggest that the Kremlin leader's ambitions stretch beyond Ukraine and that he strives to reassert a Russian sphere of influence in eastern Europe. ... It would be wise to assume that Minsk II is little more than a tactical pause."
Russia benefits from ceasefire
The Minsk ceasefire mainly strengthens Russian President Vladimir Putin's position, the left-liberal daily Libération laments: "On the one hand the new text doesn't make any mention of the word 'Crimea', meaning the region is to all extents and purposes abandoned to Russia, while a federalised Ukraine with an eastern flank under Russian influence, even if it too is not specifically mentioned, is fully established in spirit. Hence the balance of power remains in Putin's favour. It was enough to watch and hear the European leaders. Most of them remained guarded, Angela Merkel first and foremost, who stressed that she harboured no illusions for the future. Every day of peace is welcome, there can be no doubt about that. Unless, that is, it allows the one with the advantage on the ground to reinforce his position."
Another frozen conflict
The Minsk agreement condemns Ukraine to the same scenario Russia has imposed on other countries in its vicinity, the daily Tages-Anzeiger criticises: "Once again a country has been put in a 'neither here nor there' situation through the externally-imposed freezing of an unresolved conflict: neither East nor West, neither European Union nor Eurasian Union. This is already the case in Georgia with the frozen conflict in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, in Moldova with Transnistria, in Armenia and Azerbaijan with Nagorno-Karabakh. In these neighbouring countries Moscow has put all its effort into preserving a state of tension to keep itself in the game in the hopes of increasing its clout. Russia wants to be taken seriously on the world stage and to be on an equal footing with the US. In reality, however, Moscow has only highlighted how unattractive it is even in Ukraine: only by resorting to the crude force of arms has it been able to prevent the country from determining its own future."
Putin gets what he wants again
The result of the Minsk peace talks is fragile and reminiscent of the division of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the conservative daily Večernji List criticises: "One can hardly expect an end to the bloodbath in Ukraine with the ceasefire that's been agreed on. Putin has once more got what he wants with this agreement, in this case autonomy for eastern Ukraine. But the question is whether that's good for Ukraine and whether the agreement will hold. Because autonomy for Luhansk and Donetsk would mean that the Russians have a firm foothold in the country. ... All of this is reminiscent of the unfortunate division of Bosnia and Herzegovina, where the conqueror got the biggest slice of the pie and a land was created that remains dysfunctional even today."