Minsk II, what is it and what is the status of the agreement?
The Minsk II is an agreement that consists of 12 points and seeks to bring an end to the conflict in Eastern Ukraine. Since fighting began in September 2014, nearly 10,000 people have been killed. The agreement can be summed up as follows:
- Immediate, full bilateral cease-fire as of February 15 (2015).
- Withdrawal of all heavy weapons by both sides, to be completed within 14 days.
- Effective monitoring regime for the cease-fire and withdrawal of heavy weapons by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).
- Launch of dialogue on modalities of local elections in accordance with Ukrainian legislation.
- Pardon and amnesty of figures involved in the conflict.
- Release of all hostages and other illegally detained people, based on the “all for all” principle.
- Safe delivery of humanitarian aid to those in need, based on an international mechanism.
- Restoration of full social and economic links with affected areas.
- Full Ukrainian control over its border with Russia throughout the conflict zone.
- Withdrawal of all foreign armed groups, weapons, and mercenaries from Ukrainian territory.
- Constitutional reform in Ukraine with decentralization as a key element; a new constitution by the end of 2015.
- Local elections in Donetsk and Luhansk regions to be held according OSCE standards.
The true detriment to the Minsk agreement remains the inability of rebel fighters in Eastern Ukraine to allow the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) into the disputed Eastern Ukrainian territory in order to verify that the rebels are complying with initial parts of the agreement. It is estimated that the separatists have violated the ceasefire agreement ‘thousands of times’ in 2015 alone. (pg25)
It is not only the separatists that refuse to abide by the agreement but also Russia, who continually refuses to withdraw its forces from the region. According the President of Ukraine Mr. Poroshenko, Russia is fielding “700 Russian tanks, more than 1250 artillery systems, more than 1000 team transport vehicles and more than 300 rocket launchers … in Donbass.”
As of October 20th 2016, the Minsk II has stalled as the Ukrainians and the Russians have refused to participate in the agreement and make concessions. The enforcing party to the agreement, the OSCE has been considered rather inadequate in its ability to garner the support of both sides of the conflict in order to proceed with future steps of the agreement.
Today, Ukraine demands
- A cease-fire before any elections can take place
- Russian weapons and equipment to be removed from the country
- Access to control the Ukrainian border
Today, Russia demands
- Immediate elections in Eastern Ukraine
- Amnesty for all those involved with the conflict (Something Ukraine refuses)
Currently, Ukraine is the one that stands to lose the most in a prolonged cold-conflict in its Eastern provinces. If Moscow chooses, conflict can be brought to an end and sanctions relief may be given to Russia as a result. In doing so, the Kremlin may try to help elect pro-Russian delegates into the Ukrainian Rada from the destabilized Eastern Ukrainian provinces thereby ensuring the continued dysfunction of the government in Kiev. Moscow can also continue their low-intensity conflict in Eastern Ukraine to ensure the government in Kiev does not pivot towards the West once more. In either case, Russia has achieved its goal of preventing Ukraine from moving closer or even joining Western democratic or economic institutions.