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Experts call for real ceasefire to stop bloodshed in eastern Ukraine

June 30, 2014, 17:57 UTC+3 Zamyatina Tamara

MOSCOW, June 30. /ITAR-TASS/. Against the backdrop of intensive talks between the presidents of Russia and Ukraine, the German chancellor and the French head of state on stabilizing the situation in Ukraine’s East, Russian experts suggest their own scenarios of overcoming the crisis, the key one being a real and controllable cessation of military operations.

“A real and not temporary ceasefire is required in order to seek a way out of the acute crisis in eastern Ukraine. The conflicting sides need to be separated from each other by a certain distance under the supervision of a large contingent of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe [OSCE],” Alexei Arbatov, the head of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ International Security Center, told ITAR-TASS.

“What is necessary is not a ceasefire for a week and three added days but one lasting at least three weeks required to organize effective peace talks between official Kiev and representatives of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s republics,” Arbatov said.

“The president of Ukraine needs to confirm the legitimacy of his representatives at talks, provide guarantees that recommendations worked out at the talks will be recognized in Kiev,” academician Arbatov said.

“Delimitation of powers between the central authorities and two entities in the east of Ukraine, granting them economic, fiscal, cultural autonomy and the right to maintain ties with Russia, which the Donetsk and Luhansk regions have historically gravitated to, should become the subject for talks,” he said.

“The formats of talks may be different: both bilateral between Kiev and Donbass [the way Ukraine and Russia call the eastern Ukrainian Donetsk and Lugansk regions], and multilateral with involvement of representatives of the European Union, Russia and the United States,” the expert said.

“It is important to involve in those consultations state figures, diplomats and scientists having the experience of settling such conflicts,” he said.

“When combat operations between the warring parties are stopped, it is necessary to pass on to the next stage of the crisis settlement — disarming, under OSCE control, all illegal military formations and junking weapons so that they don’t spread across the entire country,” the analyst said.

“It should be followed by investigation of war crimes, declaration of amnesty, restoration of destroyed infrastructure, provision of humanitarian assistance to those affected, payment of compensations to them for lost property,” Arbatov said.

“For life to return to normal, economic relations between Donbass and Kiev and between Donbass and Russia should be restored,” he said.

In his opinion, “the stupid decision to fold Ukraine’s military cooperation with Russia should be annulled.”

“Russia has placed military orders worth $15 billion in Ukraine — this is the sum the West pledges to provide to Kiev in the form of a loan. But it is more expedient for Ukraine to earn these funds than borrow them,” Arbatov said.

“As long as the Ukrainian army, national guard and Right Sector [ultranationalist movement] militants open fire on residential areas of cities and settlements of the east of Ukraine, the local population’s mindset for secession of their regions from Ukraine is increasing,” Major General Pavel Zolotaryov, a deputy director of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute for US and Canadian Studies, told ITAR-TASS.

“This is Kiev’s huge mistake,” Zolotaryov said.

“Ukraine’s armed forces have no resource to crush the protest moods in the east of Ukraine by land-based means. So, besides heavy artillery, they use combat aviation, which causes hatred on the part of civilians and their exodus to Russia,” the expert said. “But Russia is interested in Ukraine preserving its integrity.”

“The presidents of Russia and France and the German chancellor quite fairly say OSCE monitors should be present in the key points of the armed standoff in eastern Ukraine,” Zolotaryov said.

“But our Western partners, in order to prevent bloodshed in Ukraine, should place pressure not upon Russia but upon [Ukrainian] President [Petro] Poroshenko for him to give an order to stop shelling of cities,” he said.

“As regards the political element of the crisis settlement, the country’s federalization is seen as the only reasonable option to preserve Ukraine’s integrity. The examples of Georgia and Moldova, who were trying to preserve the unitary principle of state structure, prove that states collapse if they follow that path,” the expert recalled.

“The key thing to get out of the deadlock in the east of Ukraine is to stop the military phase of the standoff. But in order to do that, the national guard and dangerous nationalists from the Right Sector need to be pulled out from the region,” Zolotaryov said.

“These formations are not an instrument controlled by the state authorities. They already blackmail President Poroshenko, threatening him with the fate of deposed President [Viktor] Yanukovych should military operations in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions be stopped,” Yevgeny Kozhokin, the rector of the Academy of Labor and Social Relations, told ITAR-TASS.

“The aims of the illegal armed formations are ethnic cleansings and persecution of dissidents, which is incompatible with peace in Donbass,” Kozhokin said.

“During talks between the conflicting sides today, the key thing is security guarantees for the population, measures to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe and an exchange in held persons in line with the principle ‘all for all’,” he said.

“Observance of these terms should be ensured by international monitors with active participation of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Armenia,” Kozhokin said.

“It is too early yet to speak about the next phase of talks. When the military stage of the standoff is really terminated, it will be possible to solve issues of power decentralization. But this is subject to a long process of coordination, it is a problem that can’t be resolved immediately,” he concluded.

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