Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center Director John E. Herbst writes for The American Interest on the current ceasefire in Ukraine and whether the European Union’s refusal to lift Russian sanctions will spark new fighting:
A new turn in the Minsk negotiating process has accompanied the sharp drop in fighting in Ukraine’s east over the past six weeks. Both on the battlefield and at the negotiating table, the changes have come from a growing realization in the Kremlin that its policy of aggression Ukraine is failing.
Since it launched its undeclared, hybrid war in the Donbass in April of 2014, Kremlin policy has been to destabilize the reform government in Kyiv by engaging in low-intensity conflict that would not provoke opposition or counter-measures from the U.S. and Europe. Things didn’t go exactly according to plan, however. The success of Ukraine’s counteroffensive in the summer of 2014 prompted Moscow to escalate its intervention in order to bail out its proxies, which in turn led to major U.S. and EU sanctions that summer. Russia has been reeling since.