Foreign media digest 4-6 of July 2014

Slovyank’s release means that Ukrainian troops for the first time have overcome insurgents, but there is a huge pressure on the government to start negotiations with separatists.
The Guardian:
Head of the general staff Viktor Muzhenko said troops had fired on militants retreating from Slavyansk overnight, destroying one tank, two fighting vehicles and two armoured personnel carriers, according to a statement on the presidential website. But despite the apparent victory for Kiev, Dmitry Tymchuk, a defence analyst with close ties to the Ukrainian military, warned the campaign could drag on. “It will be many times more difficult to fight in regional centres where there is a huge number of peaceful residents,” he said, adding that the Russian border remains under rebel control in several places.

Simon Shuster: The military assault that began on June 30 will continue even as the Contact Group gets back together.
“The goal is to offer the rebel fighters a choice: either come to the negotiating table or face airstrikes and artillery fire…But forcing all of the rebel factions to agree will likely require a lot more time and many more casualties, including among the civilians caught up in the conflict. In the meantime the talking will go on—but so will the fighting,” Shuster summarizes.

Journalist Petr Andrusechko (Poland) was present at a battle line and saw with his own eyes how activists help soldiers in the conflict zone.
Gazeta Wyborcza:
Activists are buying and delivering at the battle line those goods which the Ministry of Defence can’t buy despite the mass charitable contribution from the citizens. The security service has collected a lot of brickbats.

Will Geletey cope with the task to build a capable army is another question. Geletey is a general-colonel, but he is not a soldier, more likely the main Ukrainian “bodyguard”
Berliner Zeitung:
Nobody in Ukraine has doubts the country needs absolutely new army. Nearly two decades the army have been neglected, the corruption was everywhere. As a result, the edition underlines, the army “failed” when the country needed them. Instead of fighting with the enemy using tactical methods, Ukrainian soldiers are shelling places with high population using heavy artillery.

Germany is bothered with the truce breakdown.
Deutsche Welle:
Russia’s minister of foreign affairs Sergey Lavrov during the telephone call with his German counterpart Frank-Walter Shteinmeier stresses on the necessity not to “allow to break the agreements’ which were declared at the meeting of foreign ministers of Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine in Berlin.” The bilateral discussion was held on Saturday, 5 July, press-service of Russia’s Foreign ministry reports. Despite big losses among militants and retaking several cities by ATO forces, political authorities of Donetsk People’s Republic inform they are ready to negotiate with official Kyiv, the first deputy prime-minister of the DPR Andriy Purgin informs.

Economist once more is quoting Surkov (dubbed Natan Dubovitsky): In the conflict in Eastern Ukraine, Russians are wielding the same tools the Americans use all the time: first engineer protests, and if that doesn’t’ work, back them up by force.
The edition states, Putin’s apparent interest in an on-again, off-again cycle of ceasefires and negotiations suggests that he would like to lock the conflict in place, legitimising the so-called people’s republics in Donetsk and Luhansk and raising the profile of these rebel commanders ready to take orders from Moscow. Such a war—oscillating between open fighting and political talks, but without ever being completely resolved—would resemble other frozen conflicts around the former Soviet Union – Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transdniestria. Unsettled but largely bloodless conflicts serve to constrain the Georgian and Moldovan governments as well as providing a built-in lever for Russian meddling, Economists thinks.

Russia’s Finance Ministry has warned that wider Western sanctions as a result of the Ukraine crisis could have a “significant negative impact on GDP”, The Wall Street Journal correspondent Alexander Kolyandr reports.
The Wall Street Journal:
The Russian Finance Ministry document—an annual budget-planning report discussed at a cabinet meeting on 3 July—underlines the internal alarm that the risk of further sanctions has caused. “While it (budget-planning report) says the economy “has adequate reserves to compensate for the majority of the economic losses caused by sanctions,” restrictions on entire sectors would knock growth this year to just above zero and would have a “substantial impact” in future years by cutting off access to much-needed technology,” the journalist writes. “To compensate for lower tax receipts and to strengthen the local budgets, the ministry proposes giving Russia’s regions the right to introduce a sales tax on goods purchased in large retail chains of up to 5%. Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said Thursday, 3 July the government is considering a tax of 3%,” the edition reports.

German politicians seem more prepared to accept sanctions against Russia.
Financial Times:
There are calls for “taking less Russian gas”. In the UK too, the sanctions line appears to have hardened despite concerns about the impact on London’s financial centre. In France and Italy, however, governments are less eager to introduce so-called ‘level three’ sanctions, the journalist points out. German companies are angry their French rivals seem less exposed than they are.