Ukraine Civil War (Image source)
The civil conflict in Ukraine has been pushed aside due to the seriousness of events in Syria and Iraq, but that's the way it goes with international news. Ukraine's problems are still as serious as ever even if they have not been at the op of news bulletins or grabbing newspaper headlines for a while. It would be great to report that the Kiev Government and pro - Russia separatists in the Donbass region had reached and agreement and the country was getting back to normal but that is not so.
European leaders however, eager as only politicians can be to aggrandize themselves, were quick to hail progress in halting the bloodshed in eastern Ukraine after talks in Berlin last Friday. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who hosted the meeting top foreign affairs officers from Ukraine, Russia and France, told reporters the two hours of discussions had focused on "how to further shore up the ceasefire" agreed in September between Kiev and pro-Russian forces.
"No one denied the difficulties and the obstacles to a political solution," he said.
"My impression here was that the participants are working to overcome these obstacles."
Steinmeier said the big sticking point was withdrawal of heavy weapons, including tanks, artillery and mortars, a goal he said he hoped will be reached by early December.
The chief monitor for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Ertugrul Apakan, said this week the ceasefire was "largely holding" but that the situation remains "volatile". A broader peace deal brokered by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and France's President Francois Hollande in February, The Minsk Accord, calls for the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the front line and calls for a vote in independence to be held in the separatist regions under international auspices.
The referendum have now been pushed back to early 2016.
For Russia, Sergei Lavrov admitted that "the implementation of Minsk will be delayed until next year" but told Russian reporters that he "truly hopes that a (military) escalation can be halted".
We note that the politicians do not acknowledge that fears the worsening situation in syria and Turkey and the EU's migrat crisis might spill over into Ukraine might have exercised a restraining influence on the parties involved in the conflict.