Hints of another exchange of prisoners, talk of a bilateral withdrawal of combat soldiers and heavy weaponry from the 450-kilometer frontline in Ukraine’s east, and rising signs that Moscow and Kyiv are close to a deal on a new Russian gas-transit contract — what’s happening?
Five-and-a-half years after the start of Russia’s war in eastern Ukraine, “there is a sliver of hope that the fighting will stop,” the English-language Kyiv Post newspaper editorialized Friday. The editors fear, though, the peace will be built on discord.
A day earlier, the top military commander of the Ukrainian forces deployed in the eastern region of the Donbas, Gen. Volodymyr Kravchenko, told U.N. envoys he’s currently laying down plans for a withdrawal from the frontline.
“Such a task has been set by the Chief of General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine [Ruslan Khomchak], the Minister of Defense [Andriy Zahorodniuk] and the Head of State [President Volodymyr Zelenskiy],” the general said at the September 18 meeting. “We are ready for this for the sake of making the lives of our citizens better,” he said.
But he cautioned that separation of the skirmishing forces would depend on whether Moscow will order a reciprocal pullback of the forces it controls in Ukraine’s easternmost provinces, where Kyiv’s forces have been battling pro-Moscow separatists since 2014 in a conflict that’s claimed more than 13,000 lives.
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