What Is the Minsk Agreement
Although fighting generally subsided after the ceasefire came into effect at 00:00.m EET on 15 February, skirmishes and shelling continued in several parts of the conflict zone.  Shelling and fighting in Debaltseve continued, with DPR chief Alexander Zakharchenko stating that the ceasefire did not apply to this area.  In southern Donetsk Oblast, fighting continued between DPR forces and members of the Azov battalion in villages near Mariupol.   On February 16, Minsk II appeared to be on the verge of collapse.   The separatists continued a heavy attack on Debaltseve. Both sides said they would not withdraw heavy weapons as stipulated in the agreement as long as fighting continued in Debaltseve.  Reuters called Debaltseve`s ceasefire “stillborn.”  The Ukrainian Armed Forces were established on September 18. He was forced to withdraw from Debaltseve, leaving separatist forces in control of the city.  The “DNR” and the “NRL” are not recognized as independent states by any real country, not even by Russia, which created and controlled them. The Minsk agreements use the term “certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions” (or “certain districts… ORDLO for short) to designate areas that are not controlled by the Ukrainian government. Ukrainian official newspapers use the same term ORDLO to refer to the areas of the two Donbass oblasts, or separate terms ORLO for Luhansk and ORDO for Donetsk.
The so-called “Donbass Reintegration Law,” which Ukraine passed in January 2018, designates them as occupied territories. Rather, the agreements are political agreements that are considered legal and with little legitimacy by the signatories – they were not signed by the heads of state and not even by the heads of foreign ministries, but by the OSCE representative, the Russian ambassador to Ukraine and a former president of Ukraine. None of the procedures provided for in the Constitution or the International Treaties Act have been followed. A private person does not have the right to enter into obligations on behalf of the Ukrainian State. 1. There are two Minsk agreements, not one. The first “Minsk Protocol” was signed on 5 September 2014. This is mainly a commitment to a ceasefire along the existing line of contact, which Russia has never respected. By February 2015, fighting had intensified to a level that led to further calls for a ceasefire and eventually led to the second Minsk agreement, which was signed on 12 February 2015. Even after this agreement, Russian-led forces continued to fight and six days later they captured the town of Debaltseve. The two agreements are cumulative and rely on each other, rather than the second replacing the first. It is important to understand the importance of an immediate ceasefire and comprehensive monitoring by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), including on the Ukraine-Russia border, as the basis for the subsequent set of agreements reflected in the first agreement.
From a legal point of view, the Minsk agreements within the Ukrainian legislature are null and void. However, Ukraine has no other peace agreements with Russia and considers the agreements to be legal and binding. Donbass is a Ukrainian region according to the Minsk agreements. The implementation of the Minsk agreements means the return of the territories under Ukrainian control as de facto autonomy. 5. The Russian-led forces prevent the OSCE from carrying out its mission in The Donbass as defined in the Minsk agreements. It is a tacit irony in Vienna – understood by every diplomatic mission and international staff member – that Russia approves the mandate of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine when it votes in Vienna, but then blocks the implementation of the same mission on the ground in Ukraine. Given that Russia is a member of the OSCE and that the SMM wants to preserve its limited access to the occupied territories, the mission is cautious in what it says about ceasefire violations and restrictions on its freedom of movement. Privately, however, they acknowledge that about 80% of these violations and restrictions come from the Russian-controlled side of the border, and that those that occur on the Ukrainian side are largely for security reasons (e.g. B avoid controlled access to bridges).
The new package, commonly known as “Minsk II,” has been criticized for being “very complicated” and “extremely fragile” and very similar to the failed Minsk Protocol.    The New York Times reported that the plan included “some stumbles,” such as. B the non-demarcation of control over the town of Debalzeve, which was the site of the fiercest fighting at the time the plan was drafted.   Following the Minsk talks, Chancellor Merkel, President Hollande and President Poroshenko attended a European Union (EU) summit in Brussels.  At the summit, participants in Minsk briefed EU leaders on the talks. During the briefing, they said that President Putin had tried to delay the implementation of a ten-day ceasefire in order to force Ukrainian troops in Debaltseve to abandon their positions. President Putin, for his part, said Debaltseve`s defenders were surrounded and that the separatists expected them to “lay down their arms and stop the resistance.”  Kommersant journalist Andrey Kolesnikov wrote that the implementation of the ceasefire in Debaltseve depends on whether the Ukrainian armed forces are actually surrounded or not: “First of all, does it exist or not? Vladimir Putin insisted that there is [encirclement] and that if a ceasefire agreement is reached, it would be strange if it were not violated: those who are sitting in the cauldron will certainly try to get out of it; Those who cooked this kettle will try to pick up the foam.”  6. Ukraine has implemented as much Minsk as possible while Russia still occupies its territory. The agreements require political action on the Ukrainian side, including special status for the region, amnesty for those who committed crimes in the context of the conflict, local elections and a form of decentralization in accordance with the Ukrainian constitution. But the form of these measures is not specified, and Ukraine has already adopted laws that deal with all points. He has passed laws on special status and amnesty – and expanded them with extensions – and already has local election laws in his books. It has adopted constitutional amendments.
The Minsk agreements do not require Ukraine to grant autonomy to Donbass or become a federalized state. It is Russia`s unique interpretation that the measures adopted by Ukraine are somehow inadequate, although the agreements do not specify what details are to be included, and Ukraine has already adhered to what is actually specified, as far as possible. But how could the conflict escalate? A victory for pro-Russian revanchists in the 2019 Ukrainian elections could lead to this outcome, as could the rapid growth of the far right and violent resistance in Minsk if Russia ever creates conditions in the Donbass that force Ukraine to implement the agreements. In both cases, radicals could be encouraged at both extremes, which could lead to protests or renewed violence outside the conflict zone, which Russian propaganda could use to further slander Ukraine as illiberal and ungovernable. Apart from that, however, it seems likely that the conflict will continue to freeze. The agreement was developed by the Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine, composed of representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE.  The group was established in June to facilitate dialogue and conflict resolution in eastern and southern Ukraine. Meetings of the group were held with informal representatives of the separatist Donetsk and Luhansk People`s Republics on 31 July, 26 August, 1 September and 5 September 2014. The details of the agreement, signed on September 5, 2014, largely resembled Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko`s June 20 “fifteen-point peace plan.” The following representatives signed the document: Although they are not a party to the conflict, the EU and the US also participate in the Minsk agreements. Represented by an OSCE representative who participates indirectly in the negotiations through contacts with the Kremlin and the Ukrainian government, their interest in the agreement is to normalize relations with Russia and keep Ukraine`s pro-Western government in power.