It was a confusing morning on the European front on Wednesday.
Early Wednesday morning, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko released a statement in which he announced a plan to seek a “permanent ceasefire” with Russia. The news came just prior to President Barack Obama’s joint address with the president of Estonia. Obama refused to comment on the ceasefire proposal, the details of which were largely unknown at that point. He did, however, express his support for a peace which results in Russia’s withdrawal from Ukrainian territory.
“No realistic political settlement can be achieved if effectively Russia says we are going to continue to send tanks and troops and arms and advisors under the guise of separatists, who are not home grown, and the only possible settlement is if Ukraine cedes its territory or its sovereignty,” Obama said. The president also announced his plan to send “additional air force units” to augment the Baltic states’ ability to police their own airspace.
“If confirmed, the ceasefire would represent a victory for the separatist forces, with Mr Poroshenko effectively conceding that he cannot win the war with military means,” The Telegraph’s Roland Oliphant reported.
Poroshenko’s office later asserted that they never sought an indefinite ceasefire with Russia, and the word “permanent” disappeared from a Ukrainian statement on the proposed cessation of hostilities. The pro-Russian rebels, which objected to any ceasefire negotiations that take place without their being party to the talks, rejected the already withdrawn proposal.
“The Russian-backed rebels rejected the move, saying no cease-fire was possible without Ukraine withdrawing its forces,” ABC News reported.
“As long as Ukrainian forces are on the territory of the Donetsk People’s Republic, there can be no ceasefire,” rebel official Vladislav Brig told The Associated Press.
With the aborted ceasefire proposal already functionally dead, Moscow revealed that it could not possibly accept a ceasefire with Ukraine. Why? Well, Russia is not fighting a war with Ukraine, of course.
“There is no confirmation of a ceasefire because Putin cannot agree (to) a ceasefire because he is not party to the conflict,” Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, told CNN. “What was agreed were steps that would lead to a ceasefire. The important thing is to bring an end to the bloodshed and to stop the firing. Everyone is trying to de-escalate the conflict.”
After a day of conflicting reports, the only thing that seems certain is that the fighting in the east of Ukraine will continue.