By Brett Daniel Shehadey
Special Contributor for In Homeland Security
Late on Good Friday, the Ukrainian government announced a “pause” in its “anti-terrorist” operations against the pro-Russian separatists who have seized government buildings in a dozen eastern Ukrainian cities.
Many news articles have cited that even while Ukraine is divided by language, culture and patron state affiliation, they have a common ground in Orthodox Christianity. Important religious leaders have passed patriotic insults as well.
Easter Sunday, tomorrow, will see the 57 state Organization for the Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) negotiate between Kiev and the eastern Russian rebels. The OSCE monitors are international and independent envoys that were selected by Russia, the US, the EU and Ukraine to mediate a de-escalation process as stated in the Joint Agreement.
Swiss envoy Christian Schoenenberger, said after speaking with the separatists early: “For the time being the political will is not there to move out. That’s the task of the monitors, to create this political will, inform the people, so eventually they will understand that the best option for them is to move out.”
The sides have the potential to come together over time. The Eastern pause is perhaps better for Kiev and the OSCE as it cools head and settles OSCE monitors in place. It also demonstrates an unwillingness to go further by both parties. Russia is still hesitant to use the 40,000 strong military force at the border. At this point, Moscow may be constrained to greater diplomatic interconnectedness and the promise of their stock market rising. At the same time, it continues to coordinate operations on the ground through proxy and military intelligence operatives.
Russian President Vladimir Putin still wants more of Ukraine and less sanctions or economic damage. His words will likely keep ringing through our ears past Saturday when he said: “This does not depend on us, or rather not only on us. This depends on our partners.”