Ukraine and the Minsk II agreement: On a frozen path to peace?

27-01-2016

While Kyiv took an important step towards Europe with the entry into force of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area on 1 January 2016, Ukraine's path to peace with neighbouring Russia remains complicated. The implementation of the fragile Minsk II ceasefire agreement — negotiated by the leaders of France, Germany, Ukraine and Russia in February 2015 — has been extended into 2016. Several unresolved issues will continue to pose challenges to the fulfilment of Minsk II in 2016. The death toll has now surpassed 9 000, and Russia continues to supply the rebels with ammunition, weaponry and fighters. In addition, Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko is still imprisoned in Russia over murder charges. At the same time, the practical consequences of the conflict are tangible in the rebel-held areas, where a humanitarian crisis is unfolding. While the self-proclaimed republics in Donetsk and Luhansk had agreed to postpone local elections until February 2016 — a move that was welcomed by Kyiv, Moscow and Brussels — the next developments hinge on a political settlement. However, some analysts hope that recent Russian high-level appointments could give new impetus to negotiations. This briefing brings up to date that of 16 July 2015, 'Ukraine: Follow-up of Minsk II – A fragile ceasefire'.

While Kyiv took an important step towards Europe with the entry into force of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area on 1 January 2016, Ukraine's path to peace with neighbouring Russia remains complicated. The implementation of the fragile Minsk II ceasefire agreement — negotiated by the leaders of France, Germany, Ukraine and Russia in February 2015 — has been extended into 2016. Several unresolved issues will continue to pose challenges to the fulfilment of Minsk II in 2016. The death toll has now surpassed 9 000, and Russia continues to supply the rebels with ammunition, weaponry and fighters. In addition, Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko is still imprisoned in Russia over murder charges. At the same time, the practical consequences of the conflict are tangible in the rebel-held areas, where a humanitarian crisis is unfolding. While the self-proclaimed republics in Donetsk and Luhansk had agreed to postpone local elections until February 2016 — a move that was welcomed by Kyiv, Moscow and Brussels — the next developments hinge on a political settlement. However, some analysts hope that recent Russian high-level appointments could give new impetus to negotiations. This briefing brings up to date that of 16 July 2015, 'Ukraine: Follow-up of Minsk II – A fragile ceasefire'.