Analysis. Merkel and Macron demand a ceasefire as Putin distances himself from Zakharchenko’s “Little Russia.”

French-German axis raises pressure on Putin over Ukraine

A few days ago, a conference call was held between the countries of the “Normandy Format,” a contact group formed by the leaders of four countries (Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany) to meet the objectives set out in the Minsk Accords to resolve the ongoing civil war in Donbass since 2014.

At the end of the call, while the Kremlin just said that the next meeting would take place in the second half of August, Macron and Merkel made a joint statement requesting “the ceasefire agreed on June 21 [which was never actually respected by the parties] be immediately respected.” The two leaders also argued that “Minsk Agreements must come into force at all levels” as quickly as possible by setting a deadline for the first time — the end of 2017.

Moscow feels these timelines are completely unrealistic. However, in the Kremlin corridors, according to Ria Novosti, it is believed that negotiations must necessarily take some steps forward if one wants to disarm the “Little Russia” grenade, the new state proclaimed by the “Republic of Donetsk” last week. On this conference call, Putin said for the first time that “Little Russia was an initiative he was not aware of” and he “does not recognize,” thus officially taking distance from Alexander Zakharchenko, the leader of the self-proclaimed “Popular Republic of Lugansk.”

The latter, a true ghost in the meeting of the “Normandy Format,” repeated Tuesday in a statement that he is not willing to enter any negotiations, stating that by now “the dice of the new state are drawn.” According to Zakharchenko, the “Ukrainian State and the Minsk Accords” have “definitively” failed.

The rupture with the Russian ally could not be any clearer, and, at least for now, definitive.

On the other hand, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has advanced in a press briefing his demand that “the U.N. sends an interposition force to the conflict zone.” A propaganda proposal that intends to put Russia in trouble and force it to possibly lay the veto at the Glass Palace.

The silence of the French and Germans demonstrates their level of satisfaction with the proposal. The two European leaders fear that by bringing the crisis to a world-wide plan, the U.S. could fully re-enter the deal.

Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that “according to the U.N. statutes, the involvement of an interposition force must be decided by the parties in conflict, and therefore, said proposal does not concern Russia.”

In the last few hours, the Kremlin has created an axis with the Republic of Lugansk, which declared itself unavailable to follow the Republic of Donetsk on the road to the independence status.

According to rumors gathered by the well-informed Kommersant, Putin, also on behalf of Lugansk, asked Kiev in the conference call the other day to “first guarantee a special status for the Donbass, amnesty for the fighters of the popular republics and a timetable of elections.” Kiev, which does not want to talk about amnesty for those it still calls “terrorists,” replied that it will start talking about autonomy and elections after the complete demilitarization of the area.

Meanwhile, the fight continues in the Donbass. The Donbass Press Agency reports that “in the last 24 hours, 42 violations of the ceasefire have occurred.” And after the death of five Ukrainian soldiers in a clash on Saturday, yesterday was the death turn of two fighters of the Lugansk Republic, “torn down by artillery strikes” shot by the Ukrainian army.

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