As world leaders scramble to find a diplomatic solution to ongoing tensions between Russia and Ukraine, the 2015 Minsk Agreement is under discussion as a possible way out of the crisis.
The agreement, the second of its kind (and the one that matters), was negotiated in the Belarusian capital to end what was then a decade-long bloody conflict in eastern Ukraine.
But Minsk II was never fully implemented as its key issues are still unresolved.
Here’s what you need to know:
Who are the key players? A rare meeting between Russian, Ukrainian, German and French leaders in February 2015 aimed to bring peace to areas of Ukraine seized by pro-Russian separatists the year before. These areas in Ukraine’s Donbass region became known as the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) and Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR). The Ukrainian government in Kiev claimed that the two regions were effectively occupied by Russia.
The talks also aimed to work towards a political solution for the region.
The result, Minsk II, was signed by representatives of Russia, Ukraine, separatist leaders and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). It was subsequently approved by a UN Security Council resolution.
What were the terms of the agreement? A truce. As of February 2015, fierce fighting between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed rebels was still ongoing in some areas, with Ukrainians suffering heavy casualties.
The withdrawal of heavy weapons from the front.
That the OSCE — a 57-strong security organization that includes the US and Canada — monitors the front lines.
A dialogue about local elections in areas occupied by pro-Russian rebels.
The restoration of full economic and social links between the two sides, so that pensions can be paid, for example.
That the Ukrainian government’s control over the border with Russia will be restored.
The withdrawal of all foreign forces and mercenaries.
Constitutional reform that would give some autonomy to regions of Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region, which are no longer under the control of the central government.
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