Minsk Accords take precedence

As Russia surrounds the Ukrainian border, speculation of invasion is on heightened alert. While we may not know the extent of intentions coming from Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, we do know he does not want Ukraine to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

As one of the previous Soviet Constituents, by joining NATO they would send a message that Russia no longer holds influence over the country. While some of the south and eastern parts of Ukraine have remained Pro-Russia for some years after the cold war, such rhetoric has majorly diluted following Ukraine’s pro-Western revolution in 2014. The prevalent Pro-Russian political party, Opposition Platform – for Life, has even split due to conflicts rooting from economics and stability for the country.

Back in July 2021, Putin wrote in an article that he saw Russians and Ukrainians as one people and was upset about the sort of ‘divide’ that has incurred since Ukraine's independence following the dissolution of the soviet union.

“I would like to emphasize that the wall that has emerged in recent years between Russia and Ukraine, between the parts of what is essentially the same historical and spiritual space, to my mind is our great common misfortune and tragedy. These are, first and foremost, the consequences of our own mistakes made at different periods of time. But these are also the result of deliberate efforts by those forces that have always sought to undermine our unity.”

For Ukraine to join NATO, it needs a consensus from every country that is a current member, and three countries have yet to approve Ukraine's addition. To these three unknown states, they still see Ukraine with an ‘appendage to Russia’ according to Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Kuleba, who led on, “However, until this point of view changes, NATO will open only windows for cooperation with Ukraine, but the door to accession will be closed for now.”

One of the current major contributors to Ukraine’s defense has been the US which has set forth a $200 million package to aid the Ukrainian military. This comes alongside economic threats to Russia if they choose to invade, as well as the US State Department reducing staff at the embassy in Kyiv and a Pentagon approval of 2,000 troops from the 82nd airborne division to set up camps in Poland next to the Ukrainian border to help evacuate US citizens. Asked about the planning, a White House official told CNN that

"these are multi-mission forces, trained and equipped for a variety of missions to deter aggression and to provide reassurance to NATO Allies. We are constantly evaluating the evolving security situation and planning for a range of contingencies as we always do, but to be clear we are not planning for a mass evacuation of American citizens from Ukraine. President Biden has been clear that we believe Americans in Ukraine would be wise to leave Ukraine."

While many of the Western European countries are supporting Ukraine in the matter, there are yet to be any countries to send in troops. According to U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, war in Ukraine would be

“pointless, tragic and vastly economically costly to Russia.”

While Russia is near ready for a possible invasion with over 100,000 soldiers, Ukraine has recently enlarged its military to 300,000, with 150,000 currently ready for combat.

In an effort to mediate the situation French President Emmanuel Macron alongside others have presented the Minsk accords to prevent further conflict. They have recently started holding meetings, but according to Oleksiy Danilov, head of the National Security Council of Ukraine, it includes a list of seemingly impossible agreements.

  • An immediate and comprehensive cease-fire.

  • Withdrawal of all heavy weapons by both sides.

  • Monitoring and verification of the cease-fire by the OSCE.

  • Initiation of a dialogue on interim self-government for the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, in accordance with Ukrainian law, and acknowledgment of their special status by a resolution of parliament.

  • A pardon and amnesty for people involved in the fighting.

  • An exchange of hostages and prisoners.

  • Provision of humanitarian assistance.

  • Resumption of socio-economic ties, including pensions.

  • Restoration of full control of the state border by the government of Ukraine.

  • Withdrawal of all foreign armed formations, military equipment, and mercenaries.

  • Constitutional reform in Ukraine, including decentralization, with specific mention of Donetsk and Luhansk.

  • Elections in Donetsk and Luhansk on terms to be agreed upon with their representatives.

  • Intensification of the work of a Trilateral Contact Group, including representatives of Russia, Ukraine, and the OSCE.

“If the [Ukrainian] society doesn’t accept those agreements, it could lead to a very difficult internal situation and Russia counts on that. … If they insist on the fulfillment of the Minsk agreements as they are, it will be very dangerous for our country,”

Oleksiy Danilov said.

After a recent 9 hour talk in Berlin that ended in no agreements, talks are supposed to continue between Russian and Ukrainian negotiators until sufficient progress could be made to work toward a summit of the countries’ leaders, according to Dmitry Kozak, the Russian representative at the talks. However, Putin seems to stand pretty firm on the writs of the Minsk agreement when he put out a statement earlier this week that Ukraine’s government was dragging its feet and would have to accept its terms.