On Monday Vladmir Putin addressed his security council amidst rising tensions in Ukraine as the West views Russian invasion of Ukraine imminent. Jake Sullivan, Mr. Biden’s national security adviser, said on NBC’s “Today Show” that the president is willing to “go the extra mile on diplomacy,” but added that “every indication we see on the ground right now in terms of the disposition of Russian forces is that they are in fact getting prepared for a major attack on Ukraine.”
Interestingly in his Monday address to the Security Council Mr Putin argued that it is now clear that the Minsk agreement was not going to be honoured. Here are a few things we need to know about the Minsk agreement which the Kremlin calls a significant document.
The 2015 Minsk agreement derives its name from the venue where the leaders of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine gathered in Minsk Belarus to mark the occasion and issued a declaration of support.
The deal’s 13 points were:
• Immediate, comprehensive ceasefire.
• Withdrawal of heavy weapons by both sides.
• OSCE monitoring.
• Dialogue on interim self-government for Donetsk and Luhansk, in accordance with Ukrainian law, and acknowledgement of special status by parliament.
• Pardon, amnesty for fighters.
• Exchange of hostages, prisoners.
• Humanitarian assistance.
• Resumption of socioeconomic ties, including pensions.
• Ukraine to restore control of state border.
• Withdrawal of foreign armed formations, military equipment, mercenaries.
• Constitutional reform in Ukraine including decentralisation, with specific mention of Donetsk and Luhansk.
• Elections in Donetsk and Luhansk.
• Intensify Trilateral Contact Group’s work including representatives of Russia, Ukraine and OSCE.
To date the agreement has not been fully implemented because of different interpretations by Russia and Ukraine.
Ukraine sees the 2015 agreement as an instrument to re-establish control over the rebel territories. It wants a ceasefire, control of the Russia-Ukraine border, elections in the Donbas, and a limited devolution of power to the separatists. Russia views the deal as obliging Ukraine to grant rebel authorities in Donbas comprehensive autonomy and representation in the central government, effectively giving Moscow the power to veto Kyiv’s foreign policy choices.
On Monday during the Security Council meeting the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made it clear that NATO should never interfere, and Ukraine should not join NATO as this will undermine the Minsk agreement, he also argued that Ukraine has shown no intention of honouring the Minsk agreement. Lavrov vehemently said “NATO should stop its open-door policy of accepting new members”, earlier on Vladmir Putin stated that if Ukraine joins NATO he cannot rule out an attempt by Ukraine to take back Crimea through military power and with the help of NATO.
Against this backdrop it seems Vladmir Putin seeks to assert Russia’s authoritative position in Eastern Europe. Why the annexation of Crimea in 2014 was never internationally accepted, Russian cannot afford to lose control of Crimea if it’s to retain its power in the region and world at large.
To add on to that if Russia successfully controls Ukraine, it will synergise its global position and puts them in the same league as China, does he seek to resurrect The Soviet Union? Could this be Putin’s lifetime achievement? The Russian President on Monday after a long-televised address signed a decree recognising the independence of two breakaway regions of Ukraine.
British Prime Minister quickly called it a breach of international law. It seems Putin is not backing down as it is now expected that Ukrainian forces respect the boundaries. Failure to do so might give Russia an excuse to act on Ukraine.
Kundai Vambe is a Political Researcher and a member of The Global Alliance For Justice Education