After the publication of the Minsk agreement, Andrey Illarionov and Andrey Piontkovsky say that “Putin received practically all that he wanted” without assuming any responsibility for what will happen next, while Ukraine assumed all responsibilities and France and Germany took responsibility for ensuring Kyiv does so.
“The only significant positive result” for Ukraine was “the agreement about a ceasefire and the separation of opposing forces,” something that gives a chance for an end to the bloodletting, the two say. But they add that they are concerned that since the ceasefire is scheduled to go into effect only three days from now, Putin and pro-Russian forces will move to take more territory or stage new provocations.
The two analysts list the following basic features of and arising from the Minsk documents:
Putin’s international isolation has been ended and leaders of Western democratic countries are prepared to deal with him once again.
Russia was “not recognized as a participant” in the conflict in Ukraine nor was Russian aggression “against Ukraine.”
“The presence of Russian forces on the territory of Ukraine was not condemned,” and there is no demand in the accords that Russian forces there be withdrawn.”
The possibility that Western powers will supply defensive arms to Ukraine has been reduced to nothing.
The possibility of new economic sanctions has been eliminated.
“The terrorists and bandits have been guaranteed amnesty.”
There is no guarantee of free elections in the occupied territories “in correspondence with Ukrainian law.”
At the same time, the Minsk agreements require a great deal from Kyiv, while giving it little assurance on many key points:
Ukraine is obligated by the end of this year to “carry out a constitutional reform” that will in fact “guarantee the continued existence of the terrorist regime” in the Donbas. And Kyiv must negotiate with that regime over such elections.
Ukraine is required to “recognize the power vertical” of the terrorist regimes, including the officials and “detachments of the popular militia” that the militants have established.
Ukraine gained no assurance that the Ukrainian-Russian border would be controlled. In fact, it lost that because of the accord’s call for Kyiv to negotiate with the militants about exactly that.
Ukraine was not given any assurance that Natalya Savchenko or any other prisoner of war or hostage on Russian territory will be freed.
“Responsibility for financing pensions and other social payments” in Donetsk and Luhansk “is laid on Ukraine and in part on Western countries.”
The agreement deprives Kyiv of the right to regulate or block the arrival of Russian “humanitarian convoys,” thus limiting its control of its own borders.
The agreement restores “the anti-Ukrainian law of Ukraine “on the provisional order of local self-administration in particular districts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts.”
The accords “require that the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine define the “territories on which the special regime applies,” thus reifying the militants’ control.
They also require that Kyiv allow Donetsk and Luhansk to participate in international trade without regard to Ukrainian rules.
And “Ukraine and the West guarantee the beginning of negotiations among the EU, Ukraine and Russia about the implementation of the agreement Ukraine and the EU have already signed about a free economic zone, thus giving Moscow a way of walking that back.
According to Illarionov and Piontkovsky, “the only acceptable response of patriotic forces of Ukraine in this situation are the following:
- Kyiv must declare that it has not yielded its right to free the eastern Donbas by military means.
- Kyiv must ensure that its forces are moved up to the ceasefire line.
- Kyiv must stop playing the game about its “territorial integrity” now that Putin has taken it up.
- Kyiv must immediately declare the Eastern Donbas just like Crimea to be “temporarily occupied territories” and declare that it has no state obligations toward the institutions or organizations there.
- Kyiv must help all Ukrainian citizens who want to leave those territories to do so.
- And Kyiv must remind the international community “and above all the guarantors of the territorial integrity of Ukraine according to the Budapest Memorandum” of their responsibilities.