At the G7 summit in Germany this weekend, the participating nations agreed to continue economic sanctions against Russia for their aggression in Ukraine. The failure of Russia to respect the cease fire terms was cited as the main reason for extending sanctions. As President Obama stated during the G7 meeting;
“Does [Russian President Vladmir Putin] continue to wreck his country’s economy and continue Russia’s isolation in pursuit of a wrong-headed desire to recreate the glories of the Soviet empire or does he recognize that Russia’s greatness does not depend on violating” other countries’ territory?”
However, China’s Foreign Ministry criticized the sanctions on Russia and called for further dialogue between Russia and the European Union in order to resolve the conflict.
Meanwhile, President Vladimir Putin recently made the proposal that Donetsk and Luhansk remain under Ukrainian control. Russia simply cannot afford to annex and control the two breakaway regions of Ukraine as they did with Crimea earlier, especially not with the economic costs incurred by the sanctions. Putin also stated a desire to adhere to the Minsk accords by having both sides putting an end to hostilities in the region. Be that as it may, reports from the front lines state that the separatists have recently employed heavy weapons banned by the Minsk terms such as 122mm Grad artillery rockets and 120mm mortars. Many recent reports indicate that the Russians are moving more heavy weapons, particularly artillery, into the area to aid the separatists.
It is debatable whether sanctions can put a complete end to hostilities. It is safe to assume that President Putin does not wish to let Donetsk and Luhansk escape from his grasp, either. More likely, Putin sees continued negotiations as a chance to consolidate gains in Crimea and to continue to foster low-level unrest in Donetsk and Luhansk, all the while trying to get sanctions withdrawn in order to help restore Russia’s economy. There is every reason to believe, should the situation be advantageous for Russia in the future, that we can expect another push for the rest of eastern Ukraine.