— BBC News Graphics (@BBCNewsGraphics) February 18, 2015
The Ukraine army hastily retreated from the town of Debaltseve in east Ukraine after being encircled by separatists forces. The retreat came after a new ceasefire agreement was signed in Minsk leading to cries from some in the West that forcing the Ukraine army out of Debaltseve counted as a violation of the agreement.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov claimed that Debaltseve was already a separatist-held city when the ceasefire was signed and therefore the separatists had not broken the agreement by pushing what remained of the Ukraine army out.
Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko says he now wants international peacekeepers in Ukraine according to US state media. Poroshenko wants the peacekeeping mission to be under the United Nations security council making the request seem more like a PR stunt given that Russia sits on the security council and has veto power it would surely use.
But Poroshenko does have reason to want outside forces to step up on Kiev’s behalf. Not only have the Ukraine army and right wing battalions failed to crush the separatists there is a growing movement in Ukraine to dodge the draft. Many Ukrainians have no interest in going east to kill people for Kiev and its oligarchs which has led to major shortages within the Ukraine armed forces.
The draft dodging movement has caused so much anxiety in Kiev that the government has begun arresting anyone showing sympathies, including journalists such as Ruslan Kotsaba who was arrested after calling the war in the east “fratricide” and openly declaring he would refuse to be drafted. So much for the “revolution.”
Keeping the army together might be more important than President Poroshenko is letting on. With Ukraine on the brink of economic collapse and loses of territory in the Donbas the only thing standing between the him and the right wing militias he and his friends foolishly empowered will be the Ukrainian military. The battalions have made their intentions clear.