"After the offensive of the pro-Russian separatists on Debaltseve last week, the issue of "Novorossia" is once again on the agenda. If there is further seizure of territory like Debaltseve, a viable buffer state may appear, as it has been called for by the so-called Eurasians in Russia for a long time," he said.
Merkel's adviser stated that Russian President Vladimir Putin should finally announce the goals he pursues in Ukraine. However, Erler believes that Russia is facing a complete international isolation if it does not make an effort to de-escalate the violence in the Donbas.
"The capture of each new city across the control line which was agreed in Minsk is a large-scale provocation of the signatories Minsk Agreement, including the Russian president. Capture of Debaltseve is a demonstrative violation of these agreements," he said.
He noted that rather than influence the militants it controls in the Ukrainian territory, the Kremlin, on the contrary, proves the "necessity" of their actions. "Instead, President Putin has publicly defended these actions during his visit to Budapest," the German government commissioner said.
According to Erler, now the question is whether Debaltseve was a last offensive attempt of the terrorists, or is it only a tactical pause to gain time and prepare for attacks on other sections of the front.