One of the main events of the past week was the coordination within the meeting of the Tripartite Contact Group “Complete and Comprehensive Ceasefire” in Donbas from midnight on 27 July.
The Office of the President of Ukraine called the event a “breakthrough in the Minsk process” and expressed hope that it would be a precondition for the implementation of previously reached agreements, as well as pave the way for the implementation of other provisions of the agreements.
The Special Representative of the OSCE Chairman in Ukraine and in the Tripartite Contact Group, Ambassador Heidi Grau, clarified that the ceasefire measures are to:
- ban attack and reconnaissance and sabotage operations, on the use of any type of lethal weapons;
- ban the use of fire, including sniper fire;
- ban the placement of heavy weapons in settlements and neighborhoods;
- provide effective application of disciplinary measures for violation of the ceasefire regime and notification of the TCG coordinator;
- create and involve a coordination mechanism to respond to ceasefire violations with the assistance of the JCCC;
- ensure retaliatory fire (in case of attack) is allowed if it is opened “by order of the relevant leadership of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the leadership of the armed forces of ORDLO after an unsuccessful attempt to use the above-mentioned coordination mechanism.”
The Parties Are Preparing for Implementation
As noted in the headquarters of the Joint Forces Operation, the scale of preparations for the ceasefire there were not measures for the entire period of the operation. It was reported that in each Ukrainian position, additional monitoring of the ceasefire will be carried out by specially deployed servicemen, most of whom have considerable combat experience and have participated in peacekeeping missions under the auspices of the United Nations.
“Such a step will not distract the personnel of the Joint forces from carrying out combat missions and prevent possible provocations. At the same time, it will not deprive Ukrainian soldiers of the opportunity for self-defence, as it is guaranteed by the Article 51 of the UN Charter,” the press centre of the Joint Forces Operation stressed.
The report also states that for more than six years of hostilities in the Donbas, the reduction of shooting was noticed only for some time, after which the agreements were “broken due to the fault of the Russian armed forces.” The regime of silence, which was introduced several times, lasted the longest during one day.
Meanwhile, Russian media reported that DNR and LNR militants controlled by the occupation administrations also received a ceasefire order on 27 July.
The order of illegal armed groups in Donetsk and Luhansk came from the so-called “people’s police departments.” They also threatened to open fire “in case of aggression” by the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
Provocations on the Eve of the Truce
The events of the last few days do not add optimism and faith in a “complete and comprehensive ceasefire.” According to the headquarters of the Ukrainian Joint Forces Operation, there is not complete silence on the line of contact at the moment.
On Sunday, 26 July, the press centre said that, during the day in the Donbas, there were 15 shootings reported with small arms, grenade launchers and prohibited mortars of 82 mm caliber.
At the same time, the Ukrainian military assures that they did not shoot in response.
The day before, Russian-controlled militants had repeatedly used mortars banned by the Minsk agreements (120 mm and 82 mm). Grenade launchers, heavy machine guns and small arms are commonplace.
A few days ago, Dmytro Hutsulyak, a spokesman for the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, said during a briefing that the Russian Federation continues to import weapons, ammunition, fuel and lubricants, and other military property into the occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions through uncontrolled areas of the border.
“Since 16 July, more than 20 units of 120-mm mortars and about 1,500 tons of fuel have been delivered to the units and parts 1 (Donetsk) and 2 (Luhansk) of the operational group of the Russian occupation forces,” Hutsulyak said.
He also added that the supply to the occupation units of the infantry fighting vehicles, armoured personnel carriers and other weapons repaired and modernised at the enterprises of the Russian military-industrial complex continues.
Meanwhile, the OSCE monitoring mission, with the help of drones, discovered the construction of new positions by pro-Russian militants on the border of the Bogdanovka-Petrivske breeding site. Information about this is available in the Mission’s report of 20 July this year.
Criticism of the Truce
Many in Ukraine do not believe that the TCG agreements will be fulfilled. Moreover, activists and former fighters insist that the militants cannot be trusted. Examples include the Ilovaysk tragedy, the events near Debaltsevo and the recent killing of a military evacuation group in white helmets.
Some public opinion leaders and COs believe that the Ukrainian government has agreed to a de facto surrender. Restrictions imposed on the military do not allow timely and effective response to enemy attacks, respectively; the losses can be many times higher than before.
In particular, the Capitulation Resistance Movement initiative planned to hold a protest near the Office of the President of Ukraine on Monday, 27 July. The organisers of the event believe that by “declaring a ‘truce,’ the authorities have disarmed our army,” and the Ukrainian military on the line of contact is becoming a target.
Some Ukrainian politicians are not optimistic about declaring a truce. For example, the first president of Ukraine, Leonid Kravchuk, noted that since the beginning of the war in Donbas, pro-Russian militants have never complied with the terms of the truce.
“These are people who are outside the law, outside the international norms of relations between countries. They can act as they wish and under any conditions,” the former head of state said. He also added that he was ready to applaud and celebrate if a complete ceasefire happened this time.