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What is the Minsk Agreement and is it a way out of the Ukraine crisis?

As tensions continue to rise in the direction of what would be another World War, there seems to be a saving grace to keep Russia from invading Ukraine. This saving grace is known as, The Minsk Agreement. 

The Agreement was formed in 2015 while there was still heavy violence in areas of Ukraine between Ukrainian forces and Russian-supported rebels, with the Ukrainians continuing to take the heavy losses. Following a sixteen-hour overnight negotiation, the conditions of the Agreement called for an immediate ceasefire. Allowing the Ukrainian government’s power to be restored, leading to the withdrawal of all foreign forces. The overall purpose of the Minsk Agreement was to lead to Constitutional reform that could provide some autonomy to the regions of Ukraine’s eastern region that Moscow would finance.  

The Minsk Agreement has been brought up this week by the French President, Emmanuel Macron, during his intensive peacemaking efforts. Macron appears to be pinning his hopes on a renewed attempt to breathe life into the seven-year-old Agreement. However, many believe the vagueness of the Agreement might cause more discourse than desired. While in Moscow on Monday Macron stated, “The solution of the Ukraine question can be only political, and the basis of the solution can only be the Minsk agreements,” In days to follow, the Ukrainian President came forward and agreed with Macron’s statement. The Minsk Agreement intended to restore peace to a country that would’ve otherwise ceased to be. 

An MP from former Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko’s party stated that many of the points in Minsk were incompatible with the Ukrainian constitution and that with Russia, Ukraine could not be expected to fulfill its demands. 

Critics of the Agreement claim that it was signed with a gun to Ukraine’s head, as there was no other way to stop the violence that ensued upon not only their people but their economy and borders as well. Russia acted as a signatory of the Minsk Agreement, but the name ‘Russia’ does not appear anywhere in the Agreement’s text. Due to the imprecision of the Agreement Ukraine and Russia both view what it signifies very differently. 

When asked in a press conference with Macron about Ukraine’s reluctance to implement the Minsk accords, Putin used a phrase that some interpreted as carrying dire undertones, “Like it or not, you’ll have to tolerate it, my beauty.” 

There remains to be very limited desire coming from Ukraine for any Minsk-based deals that would give Russian proxies parliamentary seats and, in reality, give Moscow a role in how Ukraine will be governed.



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