Why Ceasefire Is No Full Victory for Putin

I must admit I am somewhat surprised by the numbers of op-eds, including pieces published in English-language press, that claim the ceasefire in Ukraine is a finite victory for Putin no matter how things play out further.
The authors argue that even if the ceasefire is followed by freezing of the conflict, it would be still a victory for Putin as that would create a de factor buffer state between him and Ukraine.
But how is that a victory if the rest of Ukraine continues to gravitate toward West? Loss of most of Ukraine would outweigh any ‘gain’ from creating a state in E. Ukraine that only Russia (and maybe some Pacific Islands) recognize and that would require billions of dollars in subsidies from Russia to survive.Putin can claim victory only if the ceasefire is followed by a peace deal (or a number of agreements) that codify guarantees of Ukraine’s non-bloc status and Russia’s unimpeded access to Ukrainian market.
Did the unresolved status of S. Ossetia and Abkhazia conflicts prevent then US President George Bush Jr from lobbying hard for several years to get Georgia (and Ukraine) into NATO? It was not the frozen conflicts, but firm opposition from Germany that in the end prevented Georgia and Ukraine from getting membership action plans at the 2008 NATO summit.
Similarly a frozen conflict in Eastern Ukraine would provide no binding guarantees that future Western leaders won’t try to get Ukraine into NATO.Would ‘losing’ Georgia to West while ‘gaining’ S. Ossetia and Abkhazia constitute a victory for Russia? Of course, not. The same goes for ‘gaining’ Donbass, but ‘losing’ the rest of Ukraine.
The ceasefire could have seemed as a Russian victory only to those who had been indulging themselves with illusions previously that Putin would throw the rebels under the bus and let Kiev retake Donbass without attaning a deal first.  


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