Ukraine’s Ceasefire: Europe and the US Should Not Ease the Pressure off Russia

The Ukrainian government and the pro-Russian separatists fighting in eastern Ukraine have agreed to a ceasefire. The pro-Russian separatists, who seek to secede eastern parts of Ukraine, have resisted the Ukrainian army’s counterinsurgency campaign with Russian weapons and troop support. It is estimated over 2,500 noncombatants have died in the five months of fighting. To avoid more loss of life, both sides must adhere to the ceasefire and create a lasting political solution.

Looking at the situation in Ukraine, leaders at the NATO summit decided to form a Rapid Reaction Force and announced new economic sanctions on Russia. The force will consist of several thousand soldiers and will be capable of being mobilized within two days in the case of Russia military intervention in the Baltic states, Poland and other countries with a significant Russian population. The force will serve to put military pressure on the Putin’s administration in Russia.

This paper wants the Western nations of NATO who met at the summit to further strengthen NATO’s military power and economic sanctions, disarm the pro-Russian separatists, and drive the invading Russian forces out of eastern Ukraine.

The EU — the main entity in this round of sanctions — and the U.S. are readying new sanctions on Russia. Even if this round of sanctions is delayed due to the ceasefire, everyone should stay prepared to implement them with immediacy, as this current ceasefire agreement is occurring while Russian troops are still in Ukraine and pro-Russian separatists still retain large numbers of high-power weapons procured from Russia.

Ukrainian President Poroshenko tweeted “We must do everything possible to stop the bloodshed.” The Ukrainians — who faced a tough situation due to the Russia’s strong support for the separatists — had to accept a Putin-led offer for ceasefire.

But Ukraine cannot allow an advantageous situation for Russia and the separatists to take root. For that reason, under the auspice of ceasefire observation by the OSCE — the organization that pushed for this agreement — this paper wants full disarmament of the pro-Russian separatists and complete removal of Russian troops from Ukraine added to the agreement, as well as a halt on funding and the influx of weapons from Russia to the separatists. At the same time, the Ukrainian government, pro-Russian separatists, Russia and the OSCE must cooperate to promote decentralization of authority within the two breakaway eastern regions. This ceasefire is one mere step toward this solution.

NATO resisted the Soviet threat during the Cold War and established a collective Western defense. With the invasion of Ukraine by Russia — the successor state of the Soviet Union — the situation of the Western alliance has come full circle and the true value of that alliance is being tested once again.

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