Long have the Minsk Agreements been dead in the spirit of the law, but now they are practically dead in letter as well
On 20 February Poroshenko signed off Law No. 7163 “On the peculiarities of state policy to ensure the state sovereignty of Ukraine over temporarily occupied territories in Donetsk and Lugansk regions” that had been a subject of concern even on the part of Ukrainian political analysts and human rights watchers.
Ukrainian military forces have already violated the ceasefire on a daily basis, and therefore it seems that they never had any intention to actually implement it. Poroshenko’s new law on “Donbass reintegration”, and how it violates the internationally accepted Minsk Agreements has been the topic of much discussion.
The law has also been criticized by the Russian foreign ministry as Sputnik reports:
“On February 24, 2018, a scandalous law on the so-called “reintegration of Donbass” came into force. Thus, in Kiev, they finally confirmed their commitment to a military solution of the conflict in the South-East of Ukraine. By signing the law, Petro Poroshenko actually crossed out the Minsk agreements,” its statement reads.
For those interested in the basic story, see the above links, as well as this video:
One thing not analyzed in depth, however, is WHY the new law violates Minsk II Agreement. It’s no surprise that the Kiev regime, which has always hated Minsk, would violate these accords, with their Neo-Nazi marches and rabid ultra-nationalism, but how specifically does the new law violate them?
Everyone, especially in the west loves to talk as if they are an expert on the matter, however, few people have actually read the accords. I myself am not claiming to be the world’s greatest expert, but with common sense and an internet connection, you’d be surprised what you can learn.
The core issue is the language used in the laws, as a Russian expert broke down the situation.
According to the Minsk II Agreement signed on 11 February 2015 the parties to the Ukrainian conflict as mentioned are solely Kiev and the regions of Lugansk and Donetsk. This is not our opinion, or Russia’s opinion, or Ukraine’s opinion, but the official agreements which all parties signed.
There is no mention of Russia as an aggressor, or defender, or even at all – Russia is not mentioned once in the official “Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements” as found on the UN website. See for yourself, the word “Russia” does not even appear, and the word Russian only appears in the signature of the Russian ambassador, as well as the footnotes.
As a result, according to the Minsk Agreements, the conflict in East Ukraine is a civil war, a conflict within the territory of a single state.
In the context of the Minsk Agreements, there is no acknowledgment of Russians fighting Ukrainians, in Ukraine, and for all intents and purposes, Russia has nothing to do with anything.
Anyone with basic knowledge of Russian and Ukrainian history understands that Ukraine and Russia have been from the inception, and for centuries one people.
Anyone who understands Realpolitik knows there is more to it than that, but the point that must be stressed again for the third time is that:
According to Minsk II Agreement, Russia is not mentioned as a party to any conflict, and the parties of the conflict, which are expected to peacefully negotiate with each other are the Ukrainian government and the Donetsk and Lugansk regions.
So with that in mind:
The law, initiated by President Poroshenko, refers to the specified eastern regions of the Ukraine as “temporarily occupied territories” and defines Russia’s actions as “aggression against Ukraine.” Reports Tass news.
This law displays both a contradiction and a dangerous precedent. Let us put aside the right to Donbass people to live safely and defend themselves from extermination – which is completely worthy of our concern – and look at the legalistic language.
The regions are considered “temporarily occupied territories.” But in this case, occupied by whom? Their own citizens? No, generally speaking, when we speak of occupied territories, we are referring to territories occupied by another state.
But the Minsk agreement never mentions another state being involved, remember, according to Minsk, this is an internal Ukrainian issue, a civil war, not an invasion. But the new law considers Russia an “aggressor state”, recognizing her actions as “aggression against Ukraine”.
That is in principle, the issue with the new law. It completely reinterprets the conflict, from what was an agreed to be a civil war, to external aggression against Ukraine, and goes on to provide the legal framework for Kiev to reintegrate the Donbass territories with military force.
What is the point of the Minsk Agreements then, which begin by stressing a cease-fire, and withdrawal of heavy weapons, and dialog between Kiev and Donbass? According to the new law, Russia is the aggressor, Donbass is Ukraine, and Ukraine has the right to capture Donbass by military force.
The people of Donbass may consider themselves to be Russians, or even Ukrainians, or a combination, but it is clear that the majority of them consider themselves to be part of Russian civilization, along with Ukraine.
A vivid example thereof, is the life of Mikhail Tolstykh, a legendary commander of the Donetsk Republic’s army born in Ilovaysk, Ukraine, who had Georgian roots yet when asked about his ethnicity answered: “Well, I am Russian and that’s all”.
That does NOT make them Russian citizens, however, nor is Russia required by international law, or its own internal law to take any action.
Their actions are their own, and they must be recognized as a free, independent, and mature party, at a negotiation table with Kiev. They cannot be dismissed as mere “agents of Russia”, or worse, a non-party, whose position is irrelevant. Russia may or may not be present, but only as a mediator, not as a party to the conflict.
Kiev must talk to Donbass!
The new law considers Donbass merely an object to be won in battle, and the voices of Donbass people irrelevant.
This contradicts not only Minsk, but basic reality, designed at fooling foreigners unaware of it, and allowing Kiev to do as it pleases.
Regardless what your position is on the Ukraine conflict, no one is entitled to their own facts – facts are objective reality.
And the reality is the Donetsk People’s Republic and Lugansk People’s Republic are independent entities. Just as there are Ukrainians who don’t like that, there can also exist people who feel Donbass should belong to Russia, but in fact, the Russian Federation has not accepted Donbass either partially or entirely into Russia, nor even recognized the breakaway republics officially.
There were voices in Russia advocating for taking more action, like Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the leader of Liberal Democratic Party of Russia. The reality is, if Russia wanted Donbass or all of Ukraine at any cost, there would have been a tricolor flying over Kiev in less than a month back in 2014. Eventually, even some who hate Russia may wake up from their sleep and be happier. In any case, Russia has no desire to invade Ukraine.
The parties to the conflict are the government of the Ukraine appointed as the result of Maidan coup, and the people of Donbass who have not recognized this government as legitimate, and Minsk II Agreement has made it clear that a dialogue should have been launched between them i.e. on modalities of local elections in accordance with Ukrainian legislation and the Law of Ukraine “On interim local self-government order in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions”.
But the new law approved by the majority of the Ukrainian parliament deputies does not even mention the Minsk Agreements, tearing them asunder in letter, as Kiev’s actions already did so in spirit long ago. Furthermore, it gives the President special authorization to use military force within the territory of Ukraine in violation of the existing Ukrainian Constitution.
What does this mean in practice? Imagine in Transcarpathia or in Kiev, a riot against the government commences, so “Maidan 2.0”. Poroshenko (or whoever will be appointed as his replacement in 2019), may then announce that, according to “intelligence”, the protestors are led by Moscow, and this is an “act of armed aggression”.
There could even be a false flag, if the president feels like he is about to be overthrown and needs to consolidate popularity around a national tragedy. Then the Ukrainian president will be legally entitled to use the army against the citizens without the approval of the parliament. [A Russian article which further discusses this].
At the same time, while expressly defining Russia as an “aggressor” the law does not mention either a state of war with Russia, or termination of diplomatic relations – since this would be highly disadvantageous for Kiev which intends to continue buying Russian gas and would hardly like over 2 million Ukrainian citizens permanently working in Russia back home expressing their discontent over failures to implement the required reforms in the Ukraine. [More information]
One can only hope this is mere sabre rattling by Poroshenko, to boost his steadily declining rating, and this does not herald the start of more bloodshed.