Ukrainian-Russian conflict seemed to have come to a pause after the Ukrainian representatives and Pro-Russian rebels signed a ceasefire agreement on September 5th. The agreement is primarily aimed to ensure immediate bilateral ceasefire, while allowing permanent monitoring of the Ukrainian-Russian border and verification by the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) ) and certain reconstruction of the region. However, many speculate the effectiveness and sustainability of the ceasefire agreement.
It is unlikely that the ceasefire agreement would bring substantial peace to the region. Russia does not seem to be serious in committing itself to the ceasefire agreement. Although Russia has pulled back 70% of its troops, there are still on and off conflicts taking place in Mariupol, near Donetsk airport. Also, the rebels have shown continuous intention and effort in engaging in “a long military and political fight.” Furthermore, There is an ongoing increase in Russian defense budget; although not necessarily directed towards Ukraine, but such projection is enough to raise uncertainty and distrust on the Ukrainian side so as to damage the effectiveness of the ceasefire agreement. Additionally, given Russia’s history of aggression, for example, towards Georgia in 2008, it is not convincing towards other party that Russia is aiming for peace in the region. As for Ukraine, Poroshenko, the president of Ukraine once publicly stated, “Illegal armed formations can be dealt with only by force”. Furthermore, with Ukraine receiving military aid from United States, although mostly non-lethal weapons, it is enough to possibly shatter the already frail relation between Ukraine and Russia, hence increasing the possibility of war. In this way, both Russia and Ukraine encounter severe commitment issue in maintaining peace.
It is hard not to suspect that the ceasefire agreement may not have been implemented for a long-term purpose after all. Ukraine needs 5 billion cubic meters of gas so as to allow the country to make it through the winter. As one of the major exporter of gas to Ukraine, Russia will certainly leverage this fact to dominate the situation. In this way, from a realist perspective, there may not be a war between Ukraine and Russia. Judging from the power relation of Russia and Ukraine, Russia could succeed with its aggression simply by threatening to cut gas supply. Ukraine, without powerful support from the United States and European Union (although sanction applies to Russia, it is said to be “reversible” according to EU), is likely to give in to Russia’s territorial aggression, as the price of war is too high when confronting an enemy with such strong military base.