The political part of Minsk agreements remains unfulfilled, according to the report “Two years with the Minsk agreements. A period of uncertainty,” prepared close to the Kremlin Center for political conjuncture.
September 5, marks two years since the signing of the first Minsk agreement and start the process of settling the Ukrainian crisis. They were signed in Minsk at the meeting of the Trilateral contact group and representatives of the breakaway Donetsk and Lugansk national republics. Their signatures in September 2014, under them put the ex-President of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma, who was then a post of the Ambassador of Russia to Ukraine Mikhail Zurabov, OSCE special representative Heidi Tagliavini (in 2015, it was replaced with Martin Sajdik, and the head of the DND Alexander Zakharchenko and LNR Igor Carpentry.
The first Protocol was not implemented. In February 2015, after hours of negotiations in the “Norman format,” President of Russia Vladimir Putin, President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko, French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel adopted a Declaration in support of fulfillment of complex of measures on implementation of the Minsk agreements, which the same day was signed by the Trilateral group and representatives of the DND and LNR.
There is no alternative
According to the authors of the report, the current dynamics of negotiations and the fact that for September 2016 from measures fully completed, only the last item (the strengthening of the work of the Tripartite group), allow to conclude that the whole list of actions will not be performed until the end of 2016 and before the Quartet leaders will once again raise the question of whether to renew the Minsk agreements in 2017. But the alternative to the Minsk agreements is not, experts say.
“The Minsk agreements remain the only tool to achieve full political settlement. Any other tools not and none of the parties they are not invited. Ukraine made attempts to form a new negotiating group, for example, with Poland, but it’s a common trick is to replace the case with a discussion of the number of participants of negotiations”, — said the Director of the Centre politicalhistory Alexei Chesnakov.
The position of Ukraine can be explained by the unfavorable Kiev agreements, report: President Poroshenko signed them in terms of military defeats in Donbas on the basis of risk expansion of the conflict and further territorial losses. During negotiations in Minsk in 2015, the Ukrainian army was surrounded near Debaltsevo.
For Russia, according to the report, the Minsk agreements were a victory of diplomacy that their execution meets the basic political requirement of Moscow against Kiev — the federalization of Ukraine with the prospect of maintaining its non-aligned status. The lack of significant results format associated with the position of Ukraine, specifies Chesnakov: in order to start moving forward Kiev must show its willingness to implement the agreement, and while this will not see in the republics, there also won’t be prepared for the steps ahead. Meanwhile, Kiev, on the contrary, makes everything more radical and even offensive statements against Russia, he points out. Last week a Ukrainian court has issued a warrant for the arrest of defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.
Press Secretary Kuchma Darka olifer after the meeting of the Contact group in August, in contrast, talked about violating the Minsk agreement by Russia and the DPR and LPR, particularly the cessation of shelling. The President of Ukraine in June, said that Ukraine has fulfilled the agreement to 95%.
Despite the weak performance of the Minsk agreements they were able to ensure the continuation of the process of political settlement under the mediation of the “Norman Quartet” was recorded clear parameters of a peace settlement that is recognized and supported by the international community, were halted large-scale fighting in the Donbass, and also created international formats and tools for ongoing negotiations between the conflicting parties, verification of the implementation of agreements and de-escalation, list the authors of the report.
However, two years conflict has not moved fully into the plane of a political settlement, the Contact group had not turned into an effective negotiation platform, and indeed the “Norman four” can not fulfil a number of obligations from the presidential Declaration.
However, the extension of the Minsk agreements for 2017 in 2016 should recognize the most likely outcome, experts say. The only question is when it will be recognized at the official level and what the conditions for their renewal will be proposed by the Quartet.
Due to various difficulties the participants of the talks on Ukraine have significantly increased risks of zakonservirovat the Minsk process, experts warn. The main issue is the uncertainty faced by participants in the settlement process: the President of France Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel is entering an election cycle (they have elections coming up in 2017), they are harder to negotiate because of the need to present the company results. In the United States also complicated the situation because of the presidential elections in November, the Ukrainian government is in an unstable position, lists Chesnakov. Russia under these conditions would continue to insist on the literal fulfillment of the Minsk agreements and will never agree to the alternatives because it would mean that she is losing ground, experts predict.
Only experts have identified eight risk factors that will influence the implementation of the Minsk agreements. Including the risk of non-recognition of the failure of the Minsk agreements, in this case, peaceful negotiations can continue without significant progress in both military and political part, but their function will be reduced to a fragile peace along the line of contact. The contact group will focus on solving problems for the exchange of prisoners and the conclusion of periodic cease-fire and a means of political settlement of the Minsk process will become a tool for freezing the conflict.
The risks and possible destruction of the format “Norman Quartet”, the forerunner of which was the refusal of Russia to participate in it after the incident in the Crimea. At the request of President Putin, Ukrainian soldiers conducted a diversion and attacked Russian FSB officers, two of whom died. After that, Putin declared the meaninglessness of the meeting in “Norman format”.
Another risk factor is possible loss of interest of Russia to Minsk agreement: the reluctance of the EU to exert pressure on Kiev and the lack of clear prospects for changing the sanctions regime can lead to the fact that the Russian leadership may refuse to participate in further negotiations in the framework of the Quartet and the Contact group. This will not necessarily mean a resumption of hostilities in the Donbass, but Russia can go on the recognition of DPR and LPR, thereby becoming a guarantor on the part of Ukraine, and simultaneously to guarantee Europe of non-aggression with the republics, stated in the report.
Can affect and the election of the next President Hillary Clinton, who can dramatically change us policy toward Ukraine and begin to demand from Russia more concessions, and in case of refusal to extend sanctions.
Against Minsk can play, and early elections to the Ukrainian Parliament. In the case of early voting in the Parliament can form a powerful coalition of opponents of the Minsk agreements.
For risk experts also include the holding of local elections in the DNI and LC according to Ukrainian legislation, the resumption of major hostilities in the Donbass, which they believe likely.
The risk of freezing
Under these conditions, experts predict that the most likely development would be the freezing of the negotiation process for an indefinite period without the resumption of major hostilities. All members of the settlement incline to this scenario, as it is the least expensive. In this case, the frequency of negotiations will be reduced, and a breakthrough will be possible only in case of arrival of new politicians to power in Kiev, Europe and the United States, after which the talks will resume because of the inevitability of Minsk-2.
Likely scenario, experts believe the freezing of the conflict forever and the recognition of the failure of the Minsk agreements by all parties in fragile peace, in this case, the negotiations will stop, and the parties can begin to discuss the mechanisms of non-renewal and non-expansion of the conflict.
The successful reintegration of Donbass in Ukraine in accordance with the Minsk agreements until the end of 2017 is unlikely to implement all the parties will have to put pressure on Kiev.
Not ruled out a catastrophic scenario — a resumption of hostilities, experts warn. However, indicate the authors of the report, such a scenario despite regular harsh statements by the leadership of Ukraine and the republics of Donbass, really no one is interested. “Neither Kiev nor the Republic has no sufficient resources for a fundamental change of the military situation in their favor. Besides the rejection of the ceasefire regime and the onset of one of the parties can start a new round of confrontation,” they indicate.