Normandy_format_talks_in_Minsk_(February_2015)_03

The Normandy format members + host Lukashenko (the small guy looks like he needs to go to the bathroom)

The Minsk II agreement (and its predecessor the Minsk Protocol) is an absurd construction, which very soon will come to an end. It was a joke from the very beginning anyway (as predicted by Mark Galeotti in this article). 

What is absurd about the agreement? After all, it is still the only instrument which Western leaders rely upon. A few examples:

  • Nobody in the West has the guts to admit openly that this war is not an internal Ukrainian conflict, but a de facto invasion by Russia
  • The Minsk 2 was breached before the ink dried out: Russia special troops (and some locals) continued the heavy fighting to occupy Debaltseve. No protests from the West
  • Ukraine is negotiating with groups they label as terrorists
  • Russia may freely control a major part of the border, which of course makes it easier to send supplies, weapons and soldiers into Donbas
  • Poroshenko’s representative is Leonid Kuchma, the corrupt and pro-Russian former president (1994-2005)
  • Russia is a part of the Trilateral Group, even though they insist they have no part in the conflict
  • OSCE have access only to very limited areas in the occupied zone
  • The West is putting heavy pressure on Ukraine to fulfill their obligations, while DPR/LPR have openly claimed they intended to disregard the agreement from the beginning

The West has been desperate to use the Minsk II as a platform for further discussions, although anyone with some insight knows that this is useless. The Obama administration has shown no or little determination, and Merkel & Hollande appear as if they have received a direct threat from Putin: if you put more pressure on me I will attack Ukraine openly! Just too many politicians and not enough statesmen…

Russian forces have violated the ceasefire every day since the agreement was signed. The number of daily shellings from the DPR/LPR side vary between 25-150, and they use mainly heavy weapons prohibited in the agreement’s pt. 2 (see below). Except from release and exchange of some hostages (pt. 6), all of the agreements clauses are being violated.

Poroshenko is put under tough pressure from the West, and he has been forced to do stupid things like abandoning Shyrokyne, which is now being re-occupied by Russian troops.

Russia attacks during the night to make it difficult for OSCE observers to do their job. In Donetsk four of their cars were burnt on August 9. OSCE haven’t done much useful work anyway and must be replaced by an institution with much higher authority and power.

So what will happen next? Russia has poured heavy weapons into Donbas for quite a long time. 50,000 soldiers are lined up on the Russo-Ukrainian border, in addition to the 35,000-40,000 armed Russians inside Donbas. Ukraine forces have to respond to the endless shelling from the Russians, even though that means shooting at civilian areas, from where most of the shellings come from. There is a limit to how much pounding you can take, and soon – very soon – the time will come for a serious reaction.

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Here is the full text of the agreement. Read and weep:

1. Immediate and comprehensive ceasefire in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine and its strict implementation as of 15 February 2015, 12am local time.

2. Withdrawal of all heavy weapons by both sides by equal distances in order to create a security zone of at least 50 km wide from each other for the artillery systems of caliber of 100 and more, a security zone of 70 km wide for MLRS and 140 km wide for MLRS ‘Tornado-S’, Uragan, Smerch and Tactical Missile Systems (Tochka, Tochka U):

for the Ukrainian troops: from the de facto line of contact;

for the armed formations from certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine: from the line of contact according to the Minsk Memorandum of Sept. 19th, 2014;

The withdrawal of the heavy weapons as specified above is to start on day 2 of the ceasefire at the latest and be completed within 14 days.

The process shall be facilitated by the OSCE and supported by the Trilateral Contact Group.

3. Ensure effective monitoring and verification of the ceasefire regime and the withdrawal of heavy weapons by the OSCE from day 1 of the withdrawal, using all technical equipment necessary, including satellites, drones, radar equipment, etc.

4. Launch a dialogue, on day 1 of the withdrawal, on modalities of local elections in accordance with Ukrainian legislation and the Law of Ukraine ‘On interim local self-government order in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions’ as well as on the future regime of these areas based on this law.

Adopt promptly, by no later than 30 days after the date of signing of this document a Resolution of the Parliament of Ukraine specifying the area enjoying a special regime, under the Law of Ukraine ‘On interim self-government order in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions’, based on the line of the Minsk Memorandum of September 19, 2014.

5. Ensure pardon and amnesty by enacting the law prohibiting the prosecution and punishment of persons in connection with the events that took place in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine.

6. Ensure release and exchange of all hostages and unlawfully detained persons, based on the principle ‘all for all’. This process is to be finished on the day 5 after the withdrawal at the latest.

7. Ensure safe access, delivery, storage, and distribution of humanitarian assistance to those in need, on the basis of an international mechanism.

8. Definition of modalities of full resumption of socio-economic ties, including social transfers such as pension payments and other payments (incomes and revenues, timely payments of all utility bills, reinstating taxation within the legal framework of Ukraine).

To this end, Ukraine shall reinstate control of the segment of its banking system in the conflict-affected areas and possibly an international mechanism to facilitate such transfers shall be established.

9. Reinstatement of full control of the state border by the government of Ukraine throughout the conflict area, starting on day 1 after the local elections and ending after the comprehensive political settlement (local elections in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions on the basis of the Law of Ukraine and constitutional reform) to be finalized by the end of 2015, provided that paragraph 11 has been implemented in consultation with and upon agreement by representatives of certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the framework of the Trilateral Contact Group.

10. Withdrawal of all foreign armed formations, military equipment, as well as mercenaries from the territory of Ukraine under monitoring of the OSCE. Disarmament of all illegal groups.

11. Carrying out constitutional reform in Ukraine with a new constitution entering into force by the end of 2015 providing for decentralization as a key element (including a reference to the specificities of certain areas in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, agreed with the representatives of these areas), as well as adopting permanent legislation on the special status of certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in line with measures as set out in the footnote until the end of 2015.1

12. Based on the Law of Ukraine ‘On interim local self-government order in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions’, questions related to local elections will be discussed and agreed upon with representatives of certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the framework of the Trilateral Contact Group. Elections will be held in accordance with relevant OSCE standards and monitored by OSCE/ODIHR.

13. Intensify the work of the Trilateral Contact Group including through the establishment of working groups on the implementation of relevant aspects of the Minsk agreements. They will reflect the composition of the Trilateral Contact Group.

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