As fighting raged at Debaltseve, emergency negotiations, brokered by Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and President François Hollande of France, took place in Minsk. These produced a ‘package of measures for the implementation of the Minsk agreements’ (‘Minsk-2’). This document, signed on 12 February 2015 by representatives from the OSCE, Russia, Ukraine, the DNR and LNR, has been the framework for subsequent attempts to end the war.
Minsk-2 is not an easy document to grasp. The product of hasty drafting, it tries valiantly to paper over yawning differences between the Ukrainian and Russian positions. As a result, it contains contradictory provisions and sets out a convoluted sequence of actions. It also has a gaping hole: although signed by Russia’s ambassador to Ukraine, Mikhail Zurabov, the agreement does not mention Russia – an omission that Russia has used to shirk responsibility for implementation and maintain the fiction that it is a disinterested arbiter.
Nine of the agreement’s 13 points cover conflict management: a ceasefire and the pullback of heavy weaponry from the contact line (articles 1 to 3); an amnesty for those involved in the fighting (article 5); an exchange of hostages and unlawfully detained persons (article 6); humanitarian assistance (article 7); the resumption of socio-economic links between Ukraine and occupied Donbas (article 8); the withdrawal of ‘all foreign armed formations, military equipment and also mercenaries’ from Ukraine, and the disarmament of ‘all illegal groups’ (article 10); and the activities of the TCG (article 13). Läs artikel