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21 August 2017
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OpinionMinsk-2 is dead, while occupation lives on

February 12 will mark two years since the signing of the Minsk 2 Agreements following 18-hour talks between Ukraine, Germany, France and Russia. Despite the fact that the papers were signed by Russia’s representatives, including President Putin, the Kremlin continues to pretend that it is not "a party to the conflict." Against the background of the ongoing fighting along the frontline, Russian politicians of different levels are parroting their demands to Kyiv to let the Kremlin’s puppet “republics” back into Ukraine. Moscow has and still claims it will not allow the elimination of the so-called “LPR-DPR,” which in fact are simply a cover for the Russian occupation, legalizing it. If we look into the documents signed, we will not see any of these two abbreviations. The wording has it as certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

The locomotives of the Minsk peace process - France and Germany - two years ago gave Putin his last chance to withdraw from the east of Ukraine, being able to save his face. It is no accident that the sanctions against Russia have been linked to the full implementation of the agreements and recovery of control over the Ukrainian-Russian border. In practice, this means the return of a lost Russian bear back home to the tundra. So we shouldn’t think that the West does not understand the situation in Donbas. Everything seems to be clear, although no one has any clue, what to do next.

The locomotives of the Minsk peace process - France and Germany - two years ago gave Putin a last chance to withdraw from the east of Ukraine, being able to save his face

Two years later, there are no more doubts left, and it is unlikely that anyone will argue that the Minsk-2 was actually drafted on the reverse side of the Minsk-1, the Budapest memorandum, and the Treaty of Friendship between Ukraine and Russia.

The political part of the Minsk agreements provides for the holding of local elections; however, the Kremlin for some reason perceives them as a kind of a Russian know-how. That is, they believe the elections must be held in accordance with Russian traditions, when the "winner" is determined in advance. The real competitors shall not be allowed to campaign, Moscow shall count votes and legalize its henchmen… In the new Russian realities, there is no place on the Olympus even for the former members of the Party of Regions who escaped to Rostov and Kyiv. The former master of Donetsk Rinat Akhmetov will be allowed to continue to deliver humanitarian aid to the occupied territory, but he shouldn’t expect any "political" bonuses. He will not be allowed to return to Donbas through the poll. In a Moscow-mold world, any Ukrainian politician is declared an adept of the Right Sector.

The political part of the Minsk agreements provides for the holding of local elections; however, the Kremlin for some reason perceives them as a kind of a Russian know-how

The occupied Donbas is now a showcase of the "Russian world": poverty, hopelessness and powerlessness under the banners of various gangs. This design is dependent on Russian ammo, rubles, and troops “on vacation.” If everything is clear with rubles, the military component has a few tricks. The Kremlin has created in the occupied territory two army corps, where the locals are only allowed to hold lower ranks for RUB 15,000 per month – "cannon fodder," so to speak. But it’s the Russian officers who supervise these “heroes.” Something similar was done by Nazi Germany’s Wehrmacht, when they set up the Vlasov’s Russian Liberation Army in the occupied territories. Behind modern-day collaborators, there are military units, which are growing like mushrooms along the Russian-Ukrainian border.

The creation of such a branch of the Russian army is the most important evidence of the Kremlin's unwillingness to comply with the Minsk-2 and withdraw from Donbas.

Over the past two years, the Kremlin supervisors have done a lot: militants sport Russian army uniform; they are equipped with Russian weapons and Russian military hardware. Only Russian channels air in the occupied territories, while militant leaders are surrounded by the Russian "military journalists". Only Russian rubles are in circulation, while schools are stuffed with Russian textbooks. ID’s issued by the occupation authorities are recognized in Russia, while the border is controlled exclusively by the FSB.

Many Russians are well aware of the key role of their country in this conflict, but they keen to be proud of their president Putin “outplaying them all”

All that was Ukrainian has been expelled and banned. Against this background, the Russians are trumpeting about "Ukraine’s internal conflict." Such imbecile statements can only be aimed at exciting Russians. Moreover, many Russians are well aware of the key role of their country in this conflict, but they keen to be proud of their president Putin “outplaying them all.”  

Kremlin's aggressive policy has not changed a bit, and so the Minsk process is dying, finally finding itself at a dead end. Nevertheless, the deal itself and its partial fulfillment have given Ukraine some time to regroup its army and dig deeper trenches along the frontline.

What's next? Parties to the conflict -- Russia and Ukraine – will keep publicly demanding from each other to fulfill Minsk Agreements and declare there is no alternative to them. The situation on the ground is unlikely to change significantly. People will continue to flee from the occupied Donbas. At the same time, the Kremlin will continue to combine military pressure, threatening to seize Kyiv within 14 days, and political cheating. For example, they may replace [the already killed] militant leaders Givi and Motorola, who have blood on their hands, for more “respectable” crooks in suits – people like Pushilin.

The occupied Donbas and Crimea in the near future will remain a monument of Russian treachery and Ukrainian-Russian hatred.

Roman Tsymbaliuk, Moscow

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