Washington reaffirms stance that Minsk agreements are ‘path forward to resolve Donbas conflict’

8 February 2022, 12:09 PM

The Minsk agreements are the path forward to resolving the conflict in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas territory created by Russia in 2014, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at a joint press briefing with the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell on Feb. 7.

Blinken affirmed Washington’s stance that the Minsk agreements, named after the Belarusian capital, where the negotiations took place, are “the best way to restore Ukraine’s border, to restore its sovereignty, as well as to uphold the rights of Ukrainian citizens, including those living in the Donbas.”

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“I think if you look back over the requirements established in the Minsk Agreements, three agreements over the course of several months, it is a fair assessment to say that Ukraine has sought to move forward on most if not all of them, while Russia has made good on virtually none of its obligations under Minsk,” he said.

The U.S. official also spoke about the “special status” for the non-government-controlled parts of the Donbas region.

“The agreements speak of special status for the Donbas, and I believe that with the appropriate sequencing, the Ukrainians would be prepared to move forward,” referring to the region’s proposed autonomous status within the Ukrainian state – something Ukraine has refused to allow as long as there are “illegal armed formations” present in the territory.

Earlier, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba stated that Ukraine would not allow Russia to dictate what the form of “special status” for the non-government-controlled parts of the Donbas region would be.

He said Russia was pushing for the non-government-controlled territories to be granted powers to veto Ukrainian national policy decisions.

On Dec. 2, 2021, the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament, extended the law on a special procedure for local self-government in certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts for another year.

According to the law, this special procedure for local self-government would come into force only after the withdrawal of all illegal armed groups, their military equipment, as well as proxy and mercenary forces from Ukrainian territory.

Russia blames Ukraine for violating the Minsk agreements and, under this pretext, is hindering the work of the Normandy format (diplomatic discussions involving France, Germany, Ukraine, and Russia).

For its side, Ukraine has noted that the ceasefire dictated by the Minsk agreements has been violated on a daily basis for six years by the occupying power, making the implementation of much of the rest of Minsk’s provisions unviable.

According to Deputy Chief-of-Staff for the Russian President, Dmitry Kozak, who represented Russia at a recent advisor-level Normandy Four meeting, there are “irreconcilable differences” between the sides in interpreting the Minsk agreements.

He announced that a leader-level summit could only take place once all sides agree on a “legal framework for Donbas’ special status.”

In a Jan. 31 interview with The Associated Press, Secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council Oleksiy Danilov said that the fulfillment of the Minsk agreements would mean “Ukraine’s destruction.”

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s chief of staff, emphasized that the Ukrainian authorities are not against Minsk’s implementation, but “are doing everything in order to 100% within their framework preserve the sovereignty and democratic character of Ukraine throughout our territory.”

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