By Michael Hill
Bergen County attorney Mike Smorodosky watches Ukrainian TV to see how his homeland reacts to the news of the ceasefire reached in Minsk, Belarus by the Russian ambassador and a former Ukrainian president.
One reaction: “We all know whatever Russia signs will never, never be followed unless it’s too their advantage”
“With respect to the ceasefire agreement, obviously we are hopeful but based on past experience also skeptical,” said President Obama.
President Obama met with fellow NATO leaders in Wales and announced the creation of a rapid response force set in eastern Europe.
“An increased presence serves as the most effective deterrent,” Obama said.
The president said NATO’s skeptical of the ceasefire, but also said it only came about because of the huge impact of economic sanctions on Russia.
Ukraine’s president pushed for a stop in hostilities even while Russia still was denying it has invaded Ukraine’s sovereignty.
“Listen, how can anyone be against peace? How can anyone reject the idea that people must stop dying?” he asked through a translator.
Smorodosky has plenty of doubts because as the ceasefire agreement was being inked the fighting was still taking place in one Ukrainian city.
Seton Hall University’s Nathaniel Knight has studied Russia and eastern Europe for years:
“Well, I think if for no other reason it’s a positive development because it stops the bloodshed,” said Knight. “At same time we need to be very cautious and not get our hopes up too high because we don’t know what this means in the long run.”
Congressman Bill Pascrell says he still wants the U.S. to give defensive arms to Ukraine.
“They need the equipment to defend themselves,” said Pascrell.
Smorodosky says he agrees because Putin simply can’t be trusted.
“Every international agreement has been broken. You just don’t undermine every bedrock upon which European peace has been built.,” he said.
Ukrainian-Americans say they have every reason to not trust the ceasefire, not just that it won’t hold but that it’s worth anything because they say Putin has proven every step of the way that he’s willing to do whatever he wants to do.