18:21 GMT +316 October 2019
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    Will the Uneasy Ceasefire Last?

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    Experts have diverging opinions on Poroshenko's ability to uphold the Minsk protocol and the ceasefire becoming permanent.

    Experts have diverging opinions on Poroshenko's ability to uphold the Minsk protocol and the ceasefire becoming permanent.

    In Minsk on Friday, a total of twelve steps leading to a permanent political solution to the civil conflict in southeastern Ukraine were agreed upon, which included adopting an amnesty law prohibiting the prosecution of anyone with regards to the conflict and the continuation of an inclusive dialog. Media sources have quoted several senior policy analysts who believe the meeting has paved the way to peace, but it will be hard for Poroshenko to restrain warmongering politicians in Kiev.

    The Ukrainian Contact Group, which was comprised of Ukrainian government officials, the leaders of its breakaway southeastern regions, and the representatives of Russia, the US, and several EU countries, met in Minsk on September 5, where a protocol was signed stipulating a temporary ceasefire agreement. Izvestia reports that according to experts, upholding this agreement will be complicated. The newspaper notes that Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko ordered that the country's army halt its military activity in the country's southeast following the agreement of the Donbas militia to stand down. Poroshenko also announced that Ukraine would take 'outstanding steps' to normalize the situation in Donbas; these will include the decentralization of the government, the granting of economic freedoms to the area, a guarantee that Ukraine would rescind its decision to mandate the use of the Ukrainian language, as well as a promise to protect the region’s cultural traditions.  A total of twelve steps leading to a permanent political solution to the crisis were agreed upon, which included adopting a law prohibiting the prosecution of anyone with regards to the conflict and the continuation of an inclusive national dialogue. Experts interviewed by the daily believe the meeting paved the way for peace, but it will be hard for Poroshenko to restrain warmongering politicians in Kiev.

    Rossiyskaya Gazeta also has an article speculating on the likelihood that the Minsk agreements will bear fruit. Experts interviewed by the newspaper have diverging opinions on Poroshenko's ability to conform to the plan and whether the ceasefire will become permanent. The article splits the Minsk protocol into three blocks: the cease-fire and withdrawal of troops, the exchange of prisoners and provision of humanitarian aid to the war-ravaged southeast, and the cornerstone for future political dialogue – Ukraine adopting a law on the special status of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions. This law will allow these regions to hold snap elections and form new government bodies. Mikhail Pogrebinskiy, head of the Kiev Center for Political and Conflict Studies, believes that Poroshenko's decision to agree to a cease-fire was coordinated with the EU and the US. According to him, “It's unlikely the Ukrainian president decided on such an important step without their approval, especially considering the controversial attitude to this decision in the government.” A few Russian politicians have expressed the opinion that the cease-fire is not destined to last, and Kiev is using the time to reinforce its armed forces and regroup to resume the assault more efficiently.

    Meanwhile, Kommersant talked with Riga’s ethnically Russian Mayor Nils Ušakovs regarding the current tensions between Russia and the European Union and how the situation is likely to develop. Ušakovs visited Moscow in order to meet with representatives of the business community; he added that apart from building bridges between the economies, his objective was to improve Russian attitudes toward Riga and Latvia. On the subject of the cold relations between Russia and the West, the mayor said that the 'sanctions war' will end sooner or later, and it's important to build a foundation for future endeavors. The food embargo still left some space for exports into Russia, the daily notes; Russia is an important market for Latvian pastry, processed fish and beverages. Apart from political tensions, it does not seem that the Ukrainian situation is affecting society – according to Ušakovs, the conflict hasn’t sparked new tensions between Latvians and Russians. Those problems which do exist will eventually be resolved, the spokesman assured.

    The Telegraph reports that according to a security source, the CIA brought top al-Qaeda suspects close “to the point of death” by drowning them in water-filled baths during interrogation sessions in the years that followed the September 11 attacks. The description of the torture of at least two leading al-Qaeda suspects, including alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, far exceeds the conventional understanding of waterboarding, or “simulated drowning” which has already been admitted to by the CIA, the article highlights. The source, who has first-hand knowledge of the period, said, “They weren’t just pouring water over their heads or over a cloth. They were holding them under water until the point of death, with a doctor present to make sure they did not go too far. This was real torture.”  A second source who is familiar with the Senate report told The Telegraph that the so-called Torture Report compiled by the US Senate contained several unflinching accounts of some CIA interrogations which – the source predicted – would “deeply shock” the general public.

    A four-day nationwide lockdown announced by Sierra Leone’s government in a bid to contain the biggest-ever outbreak of Ebola could instead exacerbate the spread of the disease, The Guardian writes. The daily notes that from September 18 to 21, people across the west African nation will not be allowed to leave their homes, a senior official in the president's office said on Friday. However, Doctors without Borders has raised concern about the drastic step, warning that it could lead people to try to conceal infections from the authorities. The daily quotes a spokeswoman: "It has been our experience that lockdowns and quarantines do not help control Ebola, as they end up driving people underground and jeopardizing the trust between people and health providers. This leads to the concealment of potential cases and ends up spreading the disease further." The newspaper notes that there were riots in Monrovia, Liberia, after the government quarantined a community in one of the poorest areas of the capital last month.

    Russia's government green-lighted a joint venture between the state railway companies of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, The Moscow Times writes. The railways hope to grab up to a 2 percent share of container traffic between China and Europe, currently worth $1 trillion a year, the newspaper explains. According to an official decree published Friday, Russia's Cabinet approved the transfer of 50 percent plus two shares in Transcontainer, Russia's largest intermodal container operator, and 100 percent minus one share in Russian Railways subsidiary Russian Railways Logistics to the joint venture. The daily notes that in 2013 the three neighboring nations' railway companies agreed to the principal terms of a joint venture called United Transport and Logistics Company, or UTLC, that would operate within their customs union and handle transit cargo between the economic hubs of China and Europe. Annual trade between Europe and Asia is estimated to increase to $2 trillion by 2020. Russian Railways expects to get $1.7 billion in additional profits out of the joint venture over the next seven years.

    Tags:
    ebola, ceasefire, political crisis, Petro Poroshenko, West Africa
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