The Yomiuri Shimbun
Intl pressure key to ensure Ukraine ceasefire accord delivers peace
ウクライナ停戦 合意順守へ国際圧力が重要だ

To maintain the latest ceasefire, which has finally been reached after marathon negotiations, it is imperative for all concerned to comply with the agreement.
The accord was to take effect Sunday in Ukraine’s eastern states of Donetsk and Lugansk, where there have been fierce clashes between Ukrainian government forces and armed pro-Russia groups.

Military battles between the two sides broke out following Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March 2014, but a previous ceasefire was agreed upon in September of that year. However, the fighting resumed this year and pro-Russia rebels have occupied airports and harbor cities.

The death toll since April last year has topped 5,300, with private homes and hospitals being bombarded relentlessly.

Feeling the sense of crisis, German and French leaders conducted shuttle diplomacy before hammering out the latest ceasefire accord, which came after 16 hours of talks with the top leaders of Russia and Ukraine.

The 13-point agreement called for a pullback of heavy weapons, establishment of safety zones spanning 50 kilometers or more, withdrawal of foreign soldiers, ceasefire monitoring and the exchange of prisoners of war. Deadlines were set for all measures.

To begin with, the Ukrainian government, pro-Russia armed groups and Russia ought to exercise restraint on military attacks and faithfully fulfill the agreement on the pullback of tanks and artillery.

But concerns remain. Even on the day when the ceasefire agreement was announced, new military clashes and the transport of arms from Russia to eastern Ukraine were reported. The accord cannot be maintained without halting the movement of soldiers and weapons across the border.

Reconciliation crucial

Another major concern is how monitoring by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe will ensure the ceasefire’s effectiveness.

Ukraine, for its part, faces a difficult challenge domestically — how to reconcile deep-seated confrontation between its eastern regions, where there are many pro-Russia elements, with the other areas, which have strong antipathy toward Russia.

The unity of the nation depends on the reconciliation of its people. Reconciliation must be achieved by granting autonomy to areas controlled by pro-Russia groups and the reconstruction of residents’ lives and the economies of the regions that have seen conflict.

To this end, it is imperative to provide international assistance for Ukraine, whose fiscal condition has been deteriorating rapidly since last year.

The International Monetary Fund has decided to offer a huge financial assistance package — totaling $17.5 billion (about ¥2.1 trillion) over a period of four years — to Ukraine on the condition that it will carry out fiscal reform and eradicate corruption.

It is essential for the international community to continue applying pressure on Russia to honor the ceasefire accord, by imposing additional sanctions if necessary in addition to maintaining those already in place.

At a meeting of its leaders Thursday, the European Union decided to invoke, as scheduled, additional sanctions against Russian government officials and others on Monday, the day after the ceasefire accord was to take effect.

Japan is a principal donor of assistance for Ukraine and has imposed sanctions against Russia. From the standpoint of not accepting a “change in the status quo by force,” we support the Japanese government’s efforts to reinforce maintenance of the ceasefire and achieve peace, while maintaining close cooperation with the United States, Europe and others.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Feb. 14, 2015)