“On Sunday there will be peace!” we say sarcastically, as the decision of the Minsk Agreement came down after marathon talks between Ukrainian, Russian, French and German presidents.
Of course, the echelon of Presidents, and the echelon of soldiers and rebels are stratospheres apart. Where I stand, with my feet on the ground, the peace agreement is just another bit of high comedy – a chance to clean weapons, entrench further, and await the next end of the ceasefire and it all begins again.
At a Ukrainian check point, I was held up by some soldiers as one made phone calls to his superior to check my accreditation. While waiting, basking in the moment of sunshine, I asked the soldier beside me if he thought the peace agreement would stick. He laughed. “Sure, for a little while. Then we will go again.”
He showed me his weapons, seeing the stamp of the year emblazoned on the side; 1974 was the manufacturing date of their AK-47s. Some of their pistols dated back to the ’40s.
I asked someone on the separatist side if he thought there would be peace. He laughed and said “just listen…”
And we listened to the crescendo of artillery, booming in the distance. Was that the sound of approaching peace?
It’s Valentines Day, and there should be “peace” in about 12 hours (presumably on Ukrainian time, as eastern Ukraine has switched to Moscow Time which is one hour earlier). Yet, I awoke to the light, romantic rumble of falling shells.
Are these just the final twitches, the last dying throes of war? I doubt it. The ones who do the actual fighting doubt it as well. While it is all well and good for Vladimir Putin to sign the “Peace Agreement”, these politicians operate under the assumption that he has full and total command over Alexander Zakharchenko (declared Prime Minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic). Same with Petro Poroshenko’s signature, and the assumption that he has the unfeigned obedience of Dmytro Yarosh (leader of the Pravy Sektor, who take part in some of the heaviest fighting at the front lines). Previous events would indicate otherwise.
Yarosh has already rejected the Peace Agreement.
If the militants do not wish for peace, then there will be no peace.
But I’ll let you know if there’s silence this evening.
Update: As of 1421 (2:21 PM) Moscow Time, I took a smoke break and heard the whistle-boom of artillery flying overhead… the sounds of Peace.
Update 2: 1610 (6:10 PM) According to authorities, three people were killed at the city center of Donetsk.
Happy Valentine’s Day.