Minsk-2: failed peace initiatives (part 1)

Author : Oleksand Klymenko

Source : 112 Ukraine

Trilateral Contact Group, whose task is the elimination of discrepancies, has stalled last autumn
10:12, 4 May 2016

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A year ago, the Minsk agreement was signed. Many people thought it was a chance for peace. However, we have failed this chance. The war goes on, people are suffering and dying, the crisis is getting worse. What should be done to stop Donbas conflict?

Why Minsk-2 is not working? First of all, let us go back to the roots and see what was arranged a year ago in Minsk.

Immediate ceasefire

The first and main point - an immediate ceasefire – was not accomplished. During the summer and autumn the attacks actually came to naught. Both sides spoke about the peace and the need to clear mines from a "neutral territory" (this step means that the conflicting parties trust each other, so the engineers are the harbingers of a truce).

Related: Pyatt: "Hard times of Donbas conflict are already gone"

However, in early November the skirmishes renewed. Increasingly Donetsk fell asleep under the distant shelling. A week later it started in Luhansk ... December 22, contact group in Minsk agreed to stop firing at least for the holidays, so the residents of frontline villages of Donetsk and Luhansk could celebrate the New Year and Christmas without fear of attacks.

Weaponry withdrawal

The second most important step was removal of heavy (120 mm caliber and more) and medium weapons and confirmation by the international observers from the OSCE. It was carried out in two stages: first, the two sides were to withdraw the tanks, mortars, artillery, and then a technique whose caliber does not exceed 100 mm. The document was endorsed by the Trilateral contact group (Ukraine, Russia, and OSCE), and both sides beside the demarcation line began to take the weapons away.

Related: Parliament Speaker: “Elections in Donbas impossible with militants in the streets”

By the summer, the 30-kilometer buffer zone was actually free from artillery and tanks. OSCE observers could get to the places of military storages. They have fixed tanks, howitzers, mortars, etc. But in the fall, it became obvious that the negotiations reached an impasse. At the beginning of 2016, undeclared war erupted, and artillery duel resumed. And in the beginning of February, all the front line has been enacted: from Kominternovo to Horlivka, Luhansk and Marinka.

Exchange of prisoners

The third important point, registered in the Minsk agreements is an exchange of prisoners. It is conducted with very serious problems. The format of "all for all" was not fulfilled. Instead, about a dozen people once a month are released. The wounded prisoners and women are in the priority.

Related: 648 Ukrainian citizens are considered missing in Donbas

The 'ideological' soldiers from the battalions are released rarely. The issue is their ideology. Donetsk insists on the amnesty of those who were captured with weapons. Kyiv says that amnesty should take place only on current law and only after the final ceasefire. The saddest thing is that a new law designed to reflect the situation, cannot be passed while political crisis continues.

Related: Militants export equipment from Alchevsk Metallurgical Plant to Russia

Early election

Finally, each party sees a point about early elections in its own way. Trilateral Contact Group, whose task is the elimination of discrepancies, has stalled last autumn. Kyiv does not accept the elections without the control of the border.

Related: OSCE: Next Trilateral negotiation on Donbas to be held on May 18

On the one hand, there are the claims that someone might influence the expression of the will. On the other - control involves the participation of Ukrainian security officials; this scenario is not accepted by Donetsk. Mutual mistrust is a huge problem.

Related: Pyatt: Election in Donbas requires security, not time limits

Modalities do not work: the model proposed by Kyiv, provides for a vote of all eligible voters, including displaced persons and refugees. Ukrainian Central Election Commission should count the votes. Donetsk does not want to see “radical” parties from Central and Western Ukraine. Without the golden mean, the law will never be matched.

Related: Zannier: "Issue of giving weapons to OSCE employees in Donbass will be discussed"

The root of solving the problem is not in the debates on the agreement. Consensus is not at the very top: the elites are separated, there is no consensus on any of the important issues.

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