Amidst the prevalent tensions between the US and Russia, it has become greatly significant to understand the Minsk Agreement or what it actually is. In the backdrop of heightened tensions, Russia has continually assured the West that it doesn’t plan to invade Ukraine.

Whilst the US and West are constantly blaming the Russian Federation for the possible invasion of Ukraine as well as military build-up on the borders of the country.

What is Minsk Protocol?

Minsk Agreement on Ukraine was concluded to resolve the border crisis between Russian Federation and Ukraine.

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The agreement consisted of a package of measures to define the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and core interests of Ukraine in the region.

It also includes the Law on Special Status of Luhansk and Donetsk regions. Further, the package also defines measures for the status of Donbas as well. According to the United Nations, there is no alternative to the Minsk Protocol for the resolution of the Ukraine Crisis.

Trilateral Contact Group

On 1 September 2014, the Trilateral Contact group proposed an understanding to resolve the Russia-Ukraine crisis. The group consisted of representatives of the Russian Federation, Ukraine, and OSCE.

Furthermore, the package of the agreement was signed on February 12, 2014. Nevertheless, Minsk Protocol is approved by UNSC as well under resolution 2202 in 2015.

Recommendations of Minsk Protocol

According to the Minsk Protocol, an agreement was reached which included the following twelve recommendations;

  1. There is a need for the bilateral cessation of the use of weapons.

  2. As a result, OSCE must ensure monitoring and verification of the non-use weapons.

  3. The agreement included the Law on Special Status. The law called for the implementation status of the decentralization of power in the context of local-self-government for the.

  4. Meanwhile, the Trilateral Contact Group also asked to ensure permanent monitoring on the Ukraine-Russian State border. In this regard, there is a need to establish security areas along with the border areas of Ukraine and the Russian Federation.

  5. In the same vein, the agreement called on concerned authorities to release all hostages and unlawfully detained persons immediately.

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  6. Similarly, in the areas of Donetsk and Luhansk, a law is required to prohibit the prosecution and punishments of persons.

  7. Besides, the concerned parties should continue an inclusive national dialogue.

  8. For these reasons, Russia, Ukraine, and OSCE should adopt measures to improve the humanitarian status of Donbas.

  9. In addition to that, the concerned authorities must hold early local elections in the context of the Law of Ukraine on the Interim status of Local Self-government in Donetsk and Luhansk.

  10. The agreement also called on removing unlawful military establishments and hardware from the territory of Ukraine. It includes the militants and mercenaries as well.

  11. Furthermore, the Trilateral Contact Group was advised to adopt a program of the economic revival of Donbas to resume the vital activities of the region.

  12. Lastly, the agreement called for the provision of personal security guarantees for the participants of the Minsk Protocol.

Participants of the Minsk Protocol

The participants of the Trilateral Contact Group who signed the Minsk Protocol include the following; Special Representative of the Chairperson-in-Office, Ambassador Heidi Tagliavini, Second President of Ukraine, L.D. Kuchma, Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Ukraine, M.Y. Zurabov, A.W. Zakharchenko, and I.W. Plotnitski

Difference between Minsk I and Minsk II Agreements

In September 2014, OSCE, Russia, and Ukraine signed Minsk I. As per the Agreement, they agreed to a twelve-point formula for the ceasefire deal. Subsequently, this included prisoner’s exchanges and withdrawal of weapons.

But, the agreement failed to produce any result. Unfortunately, it failed to stop fighting on the Russia-Ukraine border. Thereupon, Minsk II was signed after five months.

France and Germany mediated the second agreement. However, the second package included representatives of Russia and Ukraine. But, it failed to stop violations from both sides.

What’s more, the OSCE reported that 200 weekly violations took place during the 2016-2020 period. Besides, the violations for the 2021 year account for more than a thousand fighting incidents.

Basically, the Minsk II agreement includes some notable points such as withdrawal of weapons, monitoring of OSCE to uphold ceasefire, holding of elections in Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republic for their future status in Ukraine.

Background of the Minsk Protocol

In 2013, Ukraine’s the then President, Victor Yanukovich, refused to sign Association Agreement with the EU. This led to the eruption of protests in the Ukraine region.

Resultantly, President Victor Yanukovich fled Kyiv. In response, Russia annexed Crimea in March 2014. However, the EU Association Agreement went into force in March 2017.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Minsk Agreement

On the Russian side, President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly underscored the significance of the Minsk agreement on several occasions as it is the only way to resolve the Ukrainian crisis.