The OSCE chose the capital of Belarus because it is easy to reach for all parties, considered at least superficially as a neutral mediator, and has since 1992 held negotiations on another frozen conflict, rooted in Bolshevik concepts of ethnic autonomy for national minorities: Nagorno-Karabakh. The ceasefire in Ukraine quickly collapsed when separatists, with Russia`s help, announced in Kiev two strategic defeats at Donetsk airport and the Debaltsevé railway junction. The first agreement to end the crisis in Ukraine was signed in early September 2014. Two years later, with more than 9,500 dead, the conflict continues to rage. The recent ceasefire attempt on 1 September failed after just over a week; On September 13, separatist leaders in eastern Ukraine raised hopes by announcing a unilateral ceasefire, their first offer of its kind. But when German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier meets today in Kiev with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to discuss the Minsk agreements, it is clear that peace remains a distant dream. “We`ve had long downtimes and if progress has been made, it`s in millimetres,” says Steinmeier. What are the Minsk agreements and what are they? And maybe that`s the Kremlin`s problem. A silent Donbass would no longer serve Moscow as a means of putting pressure on Ukraine to make Poroshenko and his government more difficult, implement the necessary reforms, revive the economy and implement the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the European Union.
At present, Russia does not seem ready or willing to give up this influence over Kiev. Until Minsk-2 is filled, the EU will maintain its sanctions against Russia, a move that many Western countries have supported. At this stage, it is not clear whether the sanctions regime will be changed if changes are made to the peace agreement. Minsk II is the result of a night marathon session and offers a detailed roadmap to resolve the conflict. The 13-point plan will begin with a ceasefire and the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the front, which will be overseen by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). An exchange of “all for all” prisoners, local elections and amnesty for combatants will follow; Both sides should ensure the safe delivery of humanitarian aid and work towards the socio-economic reintegration of separatist areas. Ukraine promises to implement constitutional changes to advance “decentralization”; in exchange, all “foreign armed formations” will be withdrawn and Ukraine will regain control of its borders. . .