The Atlantic Council, the establishment thinktank that counts itself as one of NATO’s biggest boosters, projected an air of defeat Friday, during a news conference call with former U.S. Ambassador to NATO Nick Burns, executive vice president Damon Wilson who hosted events in Wales running alongside the NATO summit, and Atlantic Council president Fred Kempe. They were all hoping that NATO would decisively confront Russia on its policies in Ukraine, but instead, they got a ceasefire agreement that took effect Friday, taking the wind out of NATO and the EU’s sails. Burns complained that no proposals for significant military assistance to Ukraine came out of the summit, nor did any tough sanctions. “NATO missed an opportunity, here, to increase the cost to Putin with much tougher sanctions against Russia,” he said. “We can’t trust Putin,” Burns went on. “He will continue to try to intimidate the Ukrainian government. He will leave his forces on Ukrainian soil. He has outmaneuvered Europe.” Both President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron vowed that they will continue to pursue tougher sanctions against Russia, but Friday’s developments in Minsk certainly seem to put that effort in doubt.
Ukrainian President Petro Proshenko, still in Wales for the NATO Summit, announced that he had ordered the general staff to implement the ceasefire, and the heads of the two republics likewise did the same. Alexander Zakharchenko, the prime minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, described the ceasefire agreement as the main achievement made in Minsk, according to ITAR-Tass. “We are conscientiously stopping the offensive. Not a single human life should be sacrificed to anybody’s ambitions,” he said. OSCE Ambassador Heidi Tagliavini told journalists that the group agreed on the key issues — cessation of fire, troops withdrawal, prisoner exchange and provision of humanitarian aid. “Most of the points meet our demands. But a ceasefire does not mean that we are going to give up our course towards separation from Ukraine,” Igor Plotnitsky, the head of the Luhansk People’s Republic said, according to ITAR-Tass.