A member of the Guard of Honor of the Presidential Regiment from Russia performs in Moscow, September 7, 2014.
Maxim Zmeyev / Courtesy Reuters

Has Russia won the war in Ukraine? Late last week in Minsk, negotiators representing Ukraine, the separatist forces, and Russia agreed to a ceasefire that also calls for a release of prisoners and joint patrols of the border. The parties also made a vague agreement to work toward a political settlement. If this deal holds -- plenty of earlier ceasefires have fallen apart as soon as they were signed -- then the active phase of fighting in eastern Ukraine will have come to end on terms favorable to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Ukrainian forces will stop their five-month-long effort to defeat rebel fighters in the Donbas, giving rise to a de facto pro-Russian breakaway statelet and a situation that will, by definition, be murky and unstable. 

Whether the rebel-held regions of the Donbas become another Republika Srpska (a state within a state that weighs on decision-making in the capital) or

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  • JOSHUA YAFFA is a journalist based in Moscow, where he is a contributor to The Economist, among other publications.
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