Media reports suggest that the situation in Eastern Ukraine is stabilizing since Kiev and the separatists agreed on a fragile, but in total apparently working cease fire in early September.
Now both sides also agreed agreed on installing a demilitarized zone of 30 km width controlled by the OSCE along the front-line. Despite that agreement Ukrainian officials reported the death of two Ukrainian servicemen. According to other reports there is still fighting going on in the area of Donetsk.
The Ukrainian army is said to start retreating from the demilitarized zone, also with the goal to refresh and rearm as Kiev reports that 65% of the Ukrainian army’s heavy equipment have been destroyed in the five months of fighting in the East.
Status of Novorossiya
While the military escalation seems to be put on hold for now, the political future of the separatist controlled areas in Eastern Ukraine seems to be still unclear. Despite a new law that grants the Eastern regions more independence and autonomy from Kiev, media sources state that separatist leaders aim for fully independence from the central government in Kiev. On the other side Ukrainian nationalists are said to heavily criticize the new law. There is also a chance that a loss of the Eastern Ukrainian areas could be interpreted as some kind of Ukrainian stab-in-the-back myth.
End of sanctions?
Finally the political future of New Russia as well as the Ukraine as whole depends on what the players in the background – Russia and the West – plan next. Regarding the sanctions, it might seem logical to weaken them a little since the situation seems to improve, although Ukraine will never be the same again and must most likely accept a severe loss. Also Russia is likely to struggle with a high economic prize for its involvement in the Ukraine conflict.
Alternatively all parties are just taking a breath for the next half-time which would be devastating with winter approaching.