Poroshenko wants UN mission in eastern Ukraine
After the retreat of Ukrainian troops from Debaltseve, President Petro Poroshenko on Wednesday called for a UN mission in eastern Ukraine. The Minsk peace agreement has already failed, some commentators observe. Others believe that the advance of the pro-Russian separatists has ended with the taking of Debaltseve and peace is now possible.
Separatists may well not be satisfied
The taking of Debaltseve by pro-Russian separatists could be followed by further attacks on Ukrainian cities, the liberal-conservative daily Neue Zürcher Zeitung warns: "The fall of Debaltseve must give everyone pause for thought who adamantly believes the Ukraine conflict can be solved at the negotiating table. Now those who are ready to deliver weapons to Kiev have fresh arguments at their disposal. Ukraine is far inferior to Russia in military terms, which makes it susceptible to blackmail. At any moment Moscow could use military means to create a land corridor to the annexed Crimean Peninsula. It is far from certain that the separatists' - and Moscow's - hunger for land will be satisfied with the fall of Debaltseve, as those who oppose weapons deliveries hope. But what will happen if the separatists try to take Mariupol? This city is also strategically important for the rebels, particularly because of its port. And they also consider it theirs."
A real chance for a lasting truce
The heavy fighting over Debaltseve in recent days could indicate that both sides assume the ceasefire will last, the left-liberal daily The Guardian believes: "It was obvious as soon as the Ukraine ceasefire was agreed last week that both sides would fight hard in the time before it came into force to either seize or deny territory, particularly in Debaltseve. ... Such land grabs are violations but they may also demonstrate an expectation that the truce will last. Why expend men and materiel to gain an advantage unless you expect to be able to lock it in? So the Russians and the separatists probably thought they could get away with it and then transform themselves into supposedly dutiful observers of the agreement afterwards."
Poroshenko must give up Donbass
Poroshenko announced last week that he wanted to impose martial law in case the ceasefire failed. But that's the wrong way to go, the news portal Spiegel Online warns: "One year after the revolution, Ukraine would then be well on the way to betraying the ideals for which the people protested on Maidan in the first place. For that reason the Ukrainian army should lay down its arms. True, Ukraine has legality on its side. But Donbass is lost - at least for now. If Poroshenko doesn't understand that he stands to lose an even greater battle: the fight for a modern, European Ukraine. For its part the West must provide Ukraine with massive financial support. That is the price for maintaining stability in the EU's vicinity. And in any case, the cost of a war would be significantly higher."
Debaltseve shows naivety of the West
The Western politicians' naivety is to blame for what has happened in Debaltseve since again and again they allow themselves to believe that Russia is a serious negotiating partner, Tomasz Walczak complains in the conservative daily Super Express: "I would love to see the faces of Angela Merkel and François Hollande now, who with their Minsk agreement vouched for a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine. They are now actors in a new show staged by Putin. And once again they have allowed themselves to be deceived. Yesterday we saw yet another confirmation of how any deal with the Russian president isn't worth the paper its written on. ... Naturally the West has effective instruments to defy Putin. But first it must accept the reality that Merkel and Hollande have so far refused to face."
Merkel overestimated her power in Ukraine conflict
German Chancellor Angela Merkel underestimated the importance of the US and Russia in the Ukraine conflict and overestimated her own, the left-liberal daily Delo suspects: "The war in Ukraine is the biggest threat to peace in Europe. ... The US and Russia are already taking over leadership of the western and eastern regions of Ukraine and the country is falling apart. The two major powers and also Ukraine itself are equally to blame for this process. Regardless of the illusion that Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande were saving Europe, there is little doubt that the German chancellor overestimated herself in this crisis. In the geopolitical trial of strength between Russia and the US she is helpless and not powerful enough. Unlike in Europe, where Angela Merkel is the unofficial president."