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The Daily Vertical: Why Minsk Failed (Transcript)

  • Brian Whitmore

The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect the views of RFE/RL.

Two years ago today, the guns were supposed to fall silent.

They didn't.

In fact, since the Minsk cease-fire went into effect on February 15, 2015, thousands have been killed in fighting in the Donbas.

Two years ago, Russian fighters were supposed to begin leaving eastern Ukraine.

They haven't.

Despite Kremlin claims that its troops were never in the Donbas in the first place, the documentary evidence that they were there -- and still are there -- is overwhelming and undeniable.

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Two years after the Minsk cease-fire went into effect, Ukraine is no closer to peace than it was when the ink on the agreement dried.

And the reason for this is simple.

The Minsk agreement was fatally flawed from the outset.

It was flawed because it was negotiated, signed, and implemented based on the fiction that Russia was a mediator in a conflict in which it was, in fact, the aggressor and the instigator.

It was flawed because it placed impossible demands on Ukraine to implement constitutional reforms with a gun to its head.

And it was flawed because it established an internationally recognized political mechanism for the Kremlin to continue meddling in Ukraine's affairs.

Two years after Minsk one can still hear ridiculous arguments over whether Moscow or Kyiv is to blame for its failure.

But this misses the crucial point that there would never have been a need for a Minsk agreement in the first place if Russia had not effectively invaded Ukraine.

Minsk failed because, for the Kremlin, is was never a peace agreement at all.It was a tool to dominate a neighbor.

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