After 16 hours of negotiations in the Belarusian capital, the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, France, and Germany ironed out a shaky short-term solution to the Ukraine crisis named: The Minsk II Agreement. The agreement was announced at three separate news conferences, suggesting the deal’s durability and longevity may be in doubt. The Agreement also did not lead to an immediate ceasefire. The fighting intensified, and the separatists succeeded in encircling and defeating the Ukrainian forces in the Debaltseve bulge. This chain of events was similar to those that followed attainment of the Minsk I agreement, signed on September 5, 2014 and extended on September 20.
While it may save lives, the “Minsk 2.0” ceasefire agreement, however, falls short of a comprehensive peace plan which addresses big strategic issues like Ukraine’s relations with the European Union and Nato. But, the argument that the duration of this ceasefire may not be much longer than its predecessor — the Minsk I Agreement — holds water. Without full implementation of the agreement as a stepping stone to a comprehensive deal, it is only a matter of time until this agreement fails as well.
Following are the details of the agreement:
1. An immediate and comprehensive ceasefire in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine and its strict implementation starting from 00:00 (Kiev time) on Feb. 15, 2015.
2. Withdrawal of all heavy weapons by both sides by an equal distance to create a security zone at least 50 km wide for artillery systems of calibre of 100 millimetres and more; 70 km wide for Multiple Rocket Launching Systems (MLRS) and 140 km wide for MLRS “Tornado-‘S”, “Uragan”, “Smerch” and tactical missile systems “Tochka” and “Tochka-U”:
- for the Ukrainian troops: from the de facto line of contact;
- for the armed formations of certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine: from the line of contact according to the Minsk Memorandum of Sept. 19, 2014.
The withdrawal of heavy weapons as specified above should start no later than on the second day of the ceasefire and be completed within 14 days.
The process will be facilitated by the OSCE with the support of the Trilateral Contact Group.
3. Ensure effective monitoring and verification of the ceasefire regime and the withdrawal of heavy weapons by the OSCE from day one of the withdrawal, using all technical equipment necessary, including satellites, drones, radar systems, etc.
4. On the first day after the withdrawal, start dialogue on ways of conducting local elections in accordance with Ukrainian legislation and the law of Ukraine “On interim local self-government in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions,” as well as on the future administration of these areas based on this law.
Adopt promptly, no later than 30 days from the date of signing of this document, a resolution of the parliament of Ukraine specifying the territory enjoying a special regime according to the law of Ukraine “On interim local self-government in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions,” based on the Minsk Memorandum of Sept. 19, 2014.
5. Ensure pardoning and amnesty by enacting a law prohibiting persecution and punishment of persons in connection with events that took place in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine.
6. Ensure the release and exchange of all hostages and unlawfully detained persons based on the principle of “all for all”. This process should be finalised on the fifth day after the withdrawal at the latest.
7. Ensure safe access, delivery, storage and distribution of humanitarian assistance to those in need on the basis of an international mechanism.
8. Define ways to fully resume socio-economic ties, including social transfers such as pension payments and other payments (incomes and revenues, timely payments of all utility bills, reinstating taxation within the legal framework of Ukraine).
To this end, Ukraine will reinstate control of its banking system in the conflict-affected areas and possibly an international mechanism to facilitate such transfers shall be established.
9. Reinstatement of full control of the state border by the government of Ukraine throughout the conflict area, which should start on day one after local elections and end after the comprehensive political settlement (local elections in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions on the basis of the law of Ukraine and constitutional reform) by the end of 2015, provided that paragraph 11 has been implemented in consultation with and upon agreement by representatives of certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the framework of the Trilateral Contact Group.
10. Withdrawal of all foreign armed formations, military equipment, as well as mercenaries from the territory of Ukraine under monitoring of the OSCE. Disarmament of all illegal groups.
11. Carrying out constitutional reform in Ukraine with a new constitution entering into force by the end of 2015 providing for decentralization as a key element (including a reference to the specificities of certain areas in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, agreed with the representatives of these areas), as well as adopting permanent legislation on the special status of certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in line with measures as set out in the footnote until the end of 2015.
12. Based on the law of Ukraine “On interim local self-government order in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions”, questions related to local elections will be discussed and agreed upon with representatives of certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the framework of the Trilateral Contact Group. Elections will be held in accordance with relevant OSCE standards and monitored by OSCE/ODIHR.
13. Intensify the work of the Trilateral Contact Group including through the establishment of working groups on the implementation of relevant aspects of the Minsk agreements. They will reflect the composition of the Trilateral Contact Group.
The agreement was signed by the OSCE’s Heidi Tagliavini, Ukraine’s Leonid Kuchma, Russia’s Mikhail Zurabov as well as Alexander Zakharchenko and Igor Plotnitsky representing the rebels in east Ukraine.