What started this most recent conflict?
The tensions between the two combatants go back to the early days of the post-Soviet era…..
Relations between Kyiv and Moscow often were marked by a chill even during the years immediately following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. Similarly, Ukraine’s internal political, economic, and ideological tensions were evident early on. Indeed, openly secessionist sentiments in both Crimea and the Donbas surfaced in the 1990s. Populations in both regions chafed at being ruled by nationalist, anti-Russia elements based in western Ukraine. Instead, they sought greater respect for Russian as an official second language in Ukraine and wanted closer overall cultural and economic ties with Russia. The current armed conflict has deep and tangled roots, ones that bear elucidation.
UKRAINE’S SUDDEN independence in late 1991 left both Moscow and Kyiv unprepared to deal with each other. That sudden shift in the conditions governing their relations led to an often icy and contentious bilateral relationship during the 1990s. While the creation of the Commonwealth of Independent States did prevent a total split between Kyiv and Moscow, Ukraine’s newfound independence occurred against the background of persistent attitudes among both Russian elites and ordinary citizens that Ukraine, like Belarus, is part of one “Greater Russia.” That perspective later became a very prominent and persistent theme in Putin’s speeches and policies, but it was visible much earlier. Even Russian president Boris Yeltsin asserted Russia’s right to raise border issues with the other states emerging from the carcass of the USSR—especially with those countries that had significant Russian minorities, such as Ukraine with its heavily Russified eastern regions. As such, disputes arose quickly between the two newly independent countries.
There are many reasons but some are pointing to the Minsk II agreement as the start of this most recent thing.
The year is 2015 and Minsk II was an agreement that was reached between warring factions in Ukraine…..
But what is it?
It was an agreement reached by Ukraine, Russia France and Germany……points were signed….
13 points of agreement….
- 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.
For those interested in this agreement……
I think the media ought to analyze this agreement to see if there is something there that provoked this current conflict.
Why a civil war in Ukraine? Historically, Ukraine was cobbled together first by the Russian Empire, then the Soviet Union over 4 centuries, containing disparate peoples. The main ones were the Western leaning, Ukrainian speaking people in the north and west, and the Russian speaking in the east and south.
Their relationship was always toxic, but under Soviet rule relative peace prevailed. Once freed from Soviet rule in 1999, the tension between the two disparate groups resurfaced. Fifteen years on the U.S. essentially blew up whatever chance for peaceful resolution by aiding a coup which violently removed Russian leaning President Yanukovych, replacing him with an ultra nationalist government under Petro Poroshenko.
Thus began the civil war in the Donbas that has killed over 14,000 Ukrainians in Kiev’s effort to subjugate and marginalize the hated Russian leaning Ukrainians. And leading the carnage for the past 3 years is current president Volodymyr Zelensky. Calling him the new Churchill doesn’t quite fit.
The agreement was open to interpretation and thusly open to violations…..
Under the agreements, Ukraine wants Russia and its proxy forces to withdraw and allow Ukraine to take back control of the border before the proposed local elections under international standards take place. Then, instead of granting the territories the special status that Russia has argued for, Kyiv would give the territories some extra powers but essentially incorporate them into its existing decentralisation programme.
Ukraine’s interpretation of the agreement envisions alterations to some of the prickliest political elements, but in doing so, it negates what Russia has shown it wants from Minsk – the ability to continue to control the territories and through them have a say in Ukraine’s national affairs on an ongoing basis.
If Ukraine fulfilled Russia’s interpretation of the agreements, it would give the occupied region special status. In Russia’s eyes, this would include its own police force, described as a ‘people’s militia’; the right to choose judges and prosecutors; support from Kyiv of the region’s transnational cooperation with Russia; amnesty for anyone involved in the fighting on the Russian side; and elections. All of this would happen before the Russian-controlled and Russian forces withdrew.
And 7 years later we have the dire situation that is tearing Ukraine at the seams.
For more information and opinion on the Minsk agreements….
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