Minsk 2.0 Is Just The Pause Button

Minsk 2.0 Is Just The Pause Button

After 15 hours of negotiations in Minsk Poroshenko, Putin, Merkel and Hollande achieved a renewal, with a few changes, of the Minsk 1.0 ceasefire for Ukraine framed as the new Minsk 2.0 ceasefire. The two heads of the federalists in Donetsk and Lughanks also signed the agreement. There was no common press conference to announce the deal.

The terms, as far as I can tell, are nearly the same as in Minsk 1.0. RT.com twittered the main points:

1.Ceasefire 2.Heavy weapons 3.Monitoring (OSCE) incl satellites & drones 4. Regional elections & self-gov 5. ‘special status’ in 30 days 6. POWs 7.Humanitarian corridors 8.Pensions & social ties 9.Kiev controls borders 10. Foreign fighters out 11. Disarm irregulars 12. reform by end 2015, decentralization 13.Donbass elections under 3-party contact group (3PCG) 14.3PCG to intensify activities

The full, original text in Russian is here, a preliminary English translation here. There is also a Declaration of Minsk in support of the “Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements” from the German and French side.

The actual ceasefire will start on February 15. We can expect some heavy fighting up to the last minute as each side will try to consolidate its position. There will surely be different interpretations of the clauses on both sides. It is also questionable if the paramilitary groups, especially on the Ukrainian state side, will follow orders to cease fighting.

The Ukrainian President Poroshenko seems to have severe illusions. As the Russian President Putin mentioned in his short press conference (video) Poroshenko does not believe that his several thousand troops in Debaltsevo are surrounded and cut off. That is ludicrous as even major, though unofficial sources on the Ukrainian side had confirmed the closing of the cauldron two days ago. It seems that the military leaders of the Ukrainian army do not tell him what is really happening in the field. Putin also said that the federalist expect the Ukrainian troops in the cauldron to put down their arms. Will they be given orders to do so or will they be ordered to fight on?

The U.S. inserted itself into the negotiation via the International Monetary Fund which it controls. The IMF announced new $17 billion plan for Ukraine, over four years, two hours before the negotiations ended. That was the U.S. joker telling Poroshenko that he would get enough money to continue fighting and does not have to give up any position. Merkel and Hollande, who tired to wring more concessions out of Poroshenko, must have fumed at that news.

For the moment the Minsk 2.0 plan is welcome relief. This certainly for the people in Donetsk and Luhanks who are under constant Ukrainian artillery fire. The EU countries will be happy that the pressure for new sanctions is off and the U.S. hawks will have to shelf their “arm Ukraine” campaign for now. But the ceasefire does not solve the main questions. The radical constituency of the Ukraine coup government will demand more “punishment” of the east while the people there will, without more representation, reject any demands from the central government.

We can therefore expect that the fighting will stop in the short term only. The violent conflict will likely resume in a month or two or so.


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