"A month after a cease-fire was declared in eastern Ukraine, the fighting continues: 75 Ukrainian soldiers and civilians have died since Sept. 5," the article says.
"But many already are expressing relief that their frequently announced objective - "deescalation" - seems to be in reach. By that, they mean that Russian President Vladimir Putin does not appear to be aiming, for now, at sending his forces to capture new cities in eastern Ukraine or to establish a land corridor from Donetsk to occupied Crimea," the editorial board states.
"Yet Mr. Putin is on the cusp of achieving all his major objectives. In addition to Crimea, he has captured a strategic slice of territory containing up to 10 percent of Ukraine's population, creating a "frozen conflict" that he can use to keep the rest of the country permanently destabilized. He has bluffed Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and the European Union into postponing the implementation of an economic-association agreement that was the original cause of the conflict. In the meantime, the Kremlin hopes that its "deescalation" will induce the European Union and United States to lift the economic sanctions they stepped up last month. However, neither E.U. leaders nor the Obama administration have spelled out what conditions Moscow must meet to win a respite," the newspaper says.
That opens the door to letting Mr. Putin off the hook before he takes steps that are essential to preserving what remains of Ukraine's sovereignty. These include withdrawing all Russian forces and military equipment from Ukraine and sealing the border between the countries, with monitoring by international observers," - the article says.
Ms. Merkel and President Obama should insist on these terms and make them public. Otherwise Mr. Putin will be encouraged to renew the aggression that already has proved fruitful for him.