By Sean Harshman
A series of peace talks taking place in Munich, Kiev, Minsk and Moscow began last week between European, Russian and Ukrainian leaders. The talks are lead and moderated by Germany and France. Some see these meetings as the last chance for peace in Eastern Ukraine. The German and French proposed a plan that includes a Demilitarized Zone and ceasefire around the now rebel-controlled regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, according to BBC.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko did not support the proposal as it altered arrangements set by the ceasefire agreement signed in September of last year. He went on to state, “We should have the right to defend our country and our borders,” BBC reported.
Kiev and the West have accused Russia of sending troops and armaments across the border into Ukraine to support the Pro-Russian Separatists. Recently, NATO officials re-upped their claims of Russian involvement in the conflict pointing to new military tech seen in rebel-controlled areas that could have only come from Russia, BBC reported.
According to BBC, at the summit in Munich on Saturday, Feb. 7, Poroshenko called for support while accusing Russia again of sending troops across the border, this time by displaying Russian passports allegedly taken from rebel fighters captured in Eastern Ukraine.
Ukrainian leaders continue to ask Europe and the U.S. for lethal military support to combat the rebels.
Some leaders are considering sending arms, like President Barack Obama, but still others, like German Chancellor Angela Merkel, are wary of further involvement in the region. Merkel stated that there is no situation in which “improved equipment for the Ukrainian army leads to President Putin being so impressed that he believes his army will lose militarily,” BBC reported.
Putin, who was not present at the summit in Munich, stated at a press conference in Sochi that “there is no war,” only forces seeking to harm Russia’s developing economy, according to BBC.
The fighting in Eastern Ukraine continues amidst the peace talks. On Tuesday, Feb. 10, rebels launched an artillery strike against key military bases in towns within the Kramatorsk region — killing seven civilians. This artillery strike accompanies a surge of fighting by the rebels who are attempting to retake land lost to the government forces.
Analysts suggest that rebels want to hold as much land as they can before the peace talks move to Minsk, Belarus this week, BBC reported.