12 February 2015

A doubtless achievement of the negotiations in Minsk on 11-12 February were the agreements on ceasing fire, pulling back heavy weapons, setting up a security zone and OSCE monitoring.

On the other hand, trying to create conditions for long term peace turned out to be a failure. As I think, the construction established in the document is entirely in contradiction with recognizing the territorial integrity of Ukraine declared by all the parties involved in the negotiations. The document is setting up many preliminary conditions to be met by Ukraine prior to transferring the border between Ukraine and Russia to Ukrainian jurisdiction (holding local elections, some constitutional reform involving changing the constitution, local authorities' agreement to get involved in solving the issues of appointing judges, prosecutors as well as their creating their own law enforcement entities).

These conditions are forcing Ukraine to lose part of its sovereignty as frameworked by the promise to restore its territorial integrity only after legalizing by the authorities in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions of the current groups prone to banditism. Obviously, this is a punishment of the Uktrainian people for their striving to live freely and determine their destiny themselves. I suspect that Ukrainians will be unable to understand the reasons for such a decision and will not accept this punishment.

Refusing to help to timely restore the control by Ukrainian authorities over the border means that Putin effectively recognizes that for the separatists the primary source of their power and even their very existence is the free access to the border with Russia. At the same time, Putin's level of being informed about the situation on the front lines (similar to that of a campaign headquarters) and his speculations about the need for the Ukrainian military surrounded in the "Debaltsevo cauldron" to surrender are only underlining the scope of the involvement of Russian authorities into the conflict.

There has been no reconsidering the folly of the policy pursued by Russian authorities. Their actual intentions have remained unchanged: undermining Ukraine's sovereignty, forming up a totally controllable territory in Ukraine enabling them to blackmail Ukraine and the West by all means, as well as drawing attention away from the illegal annexation of Crimea.