Tuesday, February 10, 2015

On the splendid idea of demilitarization of much of the Donetsk and Lugansk Republics under Minsk 2.0

RT reports: "The creation of a demilitarized zone in southeast Ukraine and the start of a peace dialogue between Kiev and the rebels are to top the agenda of the ‘Normandy Four’ talks in the Belarusian capital, Minsk, on Wednesday, a source told RIA Novosti. During the talks, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Germany and France are expected to insist on Russia taking responsibility for controlling the establishment of the demilitarized zone in southeast Ukraine, the source added. Meanwhile, Russia believes that it’s the OSCE that should be responsible for the establishment of the demilitarized zone. Those proposals were voiced by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande during talks with Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Friday, the source said. Russia’s permanent representative to the OSCE, Andrey Kelin, told RT that the idea of a demilitarized zone in southeast Ukraine “does exist.” But we need more specification: How large will it be? What kind of weapons may be kept inside this zone? I feel that one may come to a result that it should be totally weapon-free zone with only police or those who are having sidearms,” he said."

The West dusted off the idea of "demilitarization zone," which were used to a great effect against the Serbs in Bosnia and is applying it to Donbass. Those who remember might recall the "demilitarization" of Igman Mountain, that is, undoing the effects of the almost decisive Serbian offensive. As I was told back then from a Serb working for the Bosniaks, if the gains of the Serb offensive had not been reversed in that way, the Serbs would have won the decisive battle of Sarajevo.

Back then, of course, the West insisted that the Serbs withdraw their heavy weapons from around Sarajevo, which greatly facilitated the later Bosniac offensives. Now, the "peace" idea is that the defenders of the cities (Donetsk, Gorlovka, and Lugansk ) withdraw their heavy weapons from around these cities. One has also to admire the additional cleverness of the Western initiative, which is that Russia should be the one who would enforce such demilitarization zones on the Donetsk and Lugansk Poeple's Republics--obviously in the interest of Kiev and NATO. Judging from the news, Russian diplomats seem to like the idea as much as they supported similar initiatives with respect to the Serbs back then in the 1990s. History is ironic.

When it comes to demilitarization (of much of the Donetsk and Lugansk Republics), one needs only to ask very simple, basic questions:
1. To whom is such demilitarization in this case (in this case, complete withdrawal from positions) more advantageous--to the defender or to the side preparing for eventual attack and offensive?
2. Would such demilitarization stop the ongoing Nazification of the Ukrainian state or would allow it to continue?
3. If one looks at the size of the territories at stake and if one considers the question of the viability of the Donetsk and Lugansk Republics as functioning entities, who would benefit more from such demilitarization (with the DM zones being possibly as wide as 70 km)?
4. Is it necessary in order to prevent the continuous shelling of Donetsk, Gorlovka and other towns by the junta that the militia, which defends these cities, withdraw from these cities and leave them undefended?
5. Did not Yanukovich also demilitarize and remove his forces first and before he was removed--and also under an agreement and guarantees of the same Germany and France?

Politics never canceled this basic axiom: who has boots on the ground and the monopoly on violence on the given territory also holds power over the given territory.

Demilitarization does make sense in certain cases an example of which is Korea where the demilitarized zone marks not only an effective border between two states, but also a defensible border without being or amounting to effective demilitarization of either of the two states.

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