What are the Minsk agreements on the Ukraine conflict?
- As tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine remain at an all-time high, the 2015 Minsk protocols have become a key factor in discussions aimed at resolving the long-simmering conflict in eastern Ukraine.
What’s the difference between Minsk I and Minsk II?
- The first Minsk Protocol was signed by Ukraine, Russia, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the pro-Russia separatist leaders in September 2014.
- OSCE is an international organization for peace and human rights. Presently, it has 57 countries as its members. Most of the member countries of the OSCE are from Europe, the Caucasus, Central Asia and North America.
- Ukraine and the separatists agreed to an immediate 12-point ceasefire deal including withdrawal of heavy weapons and prisoner exchanges. But the agreement failed to stop the fighting, with frequent violations by both sides.
- Five months later, after Ukraine lost territory to pro-Russia separatists, Minsk II was signed. Representatives of Russia and Ukraine, mediated by France and Germany, signed a 13-point agreement in February 2015.
- The second agreement also quickly broke down, with the OSCE reporting around 200 weekly violations in 2016-2020 and more than 1,000 since 2021.
- In addition to the ceasefire, Minsk II’s notable points include the withdrawal of weapons, monitoring of the ceasefire by the OSCE and the holding of local elections in the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics on their future status in Ukraine.
Why has the 2015 agreement failed to end fighting in eastern Ukraine?
- The Minsk II deal set out military and political steps that remain unimplemented.
- The major disagreements over Minsk II stem from differing interpretations of Russia’s role in the conflict and how the points should be implemented.
- A major blockage has been Russia’s insistence that it is not a party to the conflict and therefore is not bound by its terms.
- In general, Moscow and Kyiv interpret the pact very differently, leading to what has been dubbed by some observers as the “Minsk conundrum”.
- Earlier this year, Ukraine’s security chief argued that the full realization of the Minsk accord would lead to domestic destabilization that would give Russia the upper hand.
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