Minsk Agreements

French President Emmanuel Macron has pointed to the 2015 Minsk Agreement between Ukraine and Russia as the blueprint for a breakthrough in the Ukraine crisis.

Minsk I Agreement, 2014

Ukraine and the Russia-backed separatists agreed on a 12-point ceasefire deal in 2014. Its provisions included prisoner exchanges, deliveries of humanitarian aid and the withdrawal of heavy weapons. However, the agreement quickly broke down, with violations by both sides.

Minsk II Agreement, 2015

Representatives of Russia, Ukraine, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the leaders of separatist-held regions Donetsk and Luhansk signed a 13-point agreement in 2015. The deal’s 13 points were:

  1. Immediate, comprehensive ceasefire.
  2. Withdrawal of heavy weapons by both sides.
  3. Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) monitoring.
  4. Dialogue on interim self-government for Donetsk and Luhansk, in accordance with Ukrainian law, and acknowledgement of special status by parliament.
  5. Pardon and amnesty for fighters.
  6. Exchange of hostages, prisoners.
  7. Humanitarian assistance.
  8. Resumption of socioeconomic ties, including pensions.
  9. Ukraine to restore control of state border.
  10. Withdrawal of foreign armed formations, military equipment, mercenaries.
  11. Constitutional reform in Ukraine including decentralisation, with specific mention of Donetsk and Luhansk.
  12. Elections in Donetsk and Luhansk.
  13. Intensify Trilateral Contact Group’s work including representatives of Russia, Ukraine and OSCE.

Analysis of Minsk II Agreement

The Minsk II deal was never fully implemented. A major blockage has been Russia’s insistence that it is not a party to the conflict and therefore is not bound by its terms.

Minsk conundrum

  • Russia and Ukraine interpret the pact very differently, leading to “Minsk conundrum”.
  • Ukraine sees the deal as an instrument to re-establish control over rebel territories.
  • Russia views the deal as obliging Ukraine to grant rebel authorities in Donbas comprehensive autonomy and representation in the central government, effectively giving Russia the power to veto Ukraine’s foreign policy choices.

Significance of the agreement in present times

The Minsk II deal offers a vehicle for direct talks between Ukraine and Russia. Russia may see Minsk II as a way to guarantee its central demand – that Ukraine is never allowed to join NATO.  For Ukraine, the deal could present an opportunity to wrest back control of its border with Russia and end the threat of Moscow ordering another invasion, at least for now.