Russia leaves Control Centre in eastern Ukraine
Russia on Tuesday withdrew its officers from the Joint Centre for Coordination and Controls for the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine. The centre, which has been active since the end of 2014, was staffed by Ukrainian and Russian military and was seen as a mediator between the separatists and the government forces. Media discuss the reasons for and potential consequences of this step.
Unrest increasing in the region
The danger of major incidents on this already tense front could now grow, fears the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung:
“On the one hand a channel of communication between the Ukrainian and Russian armed forces will be closed, on the other the work of the OSCE observers will become substantially more dangerous. In addition it will become more difficult for both sides to keep vital infrastrucuture facilities running in the conflict area. This may further increase the suffering of the civilian population. Moscow's official reason for the withdrawal of its officers doesn't sound very plausible. But it's hard to make out the real reasons behind this step. This uncertainty is also adding to the unrest in the region.”
Path to legitimation of separatist regimes
Russia is pursuing a clear strategy with this decision, the Ukrainian Deputy Minister for the temporarily occupied territories and internally displaced persons writes in a commentary for web portal Novoye Vremya:
“The main goal frequently cited by Putin is: Kiev should begin direct negotiations with the separatists in Donbass. If Ukraine takes this step and starts negotiating directly with the representatives of 'certain circles of the Luhansk and Donetsk areas', this would be the de facto legitimisation of these regimes. ... If we take such a step Russia will explicitly withdraw from all negotiation processes and explain this by pointing out that direct negotiations have begun between Kiev and Donetsk and Luhansk and that they should reach an agreement among themselves.”