Facts confirming Kiev’s withdrawal from the Minsk Agreements

Press Release by the Ambassador of Russia to Zimbabwe and to Malawi

List of facts confirming Kiev’s withdrawal from the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements of 12 February 2015

Shortly after the signing of the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements, the Ukrainian leadership with President Petro Poroshenko as its head at the time took a course to sabotage their implementation under far-fetched pretexts and using a variety of techniques.

1. Paragraph 1 of the Package of Measures on “immediate and comprehensive ceasefire in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine and its strict implementation as of 15 February 2015, 00.00 midnight (Kiev time)” remains unfulfilled.

In the seven years since it was agreed, more than two dozen ceasefires agreed within the Contact Group, including “comprehensive and indefinite” (in force since 21 July 2019), have not been observed by the Ukrainian side. Since the beginning of this year alone, the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission has recorded more than 10,000 ceasefire violations, and since the Package of Measures was signed, the total number, according to the OSCE SMM estimates, is close to 2 million.

2. The Ukrainian side has in fact pulled out of the document signed by the participants of the Contact Group on additional Measures to Strengthen the Ceasefire of 22 July 2020 (entered into force on 27 July 2020), which included the ban on offensive, reconnaissance and sabotage operations, the use of any types of aerial vehicles, sniper fire, the deployment of heavy weapons in and around settlements. It also contained a clause on the creation and involvement of a coordination mechanism for responding to ceasefire violations through the facilitation of the JCCC in its current setting. Retaliatory fire responding to an offensive operation was only permissible if it occurred at the order made by the respective leadership of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the leadership of certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions (CADLR) armed formations after an unsuccessful attempt to make use of the above-mentioned coordination mechanism. The leaderships of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and CADLR armed formations were obliged to immediately issue relevant orders containing these measures.

Specific examples of violations of the above document are as follows: offensive operations in the area of Staromaryevka (October-November 2021), the statement by Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov on the use of the Bayraktar UAV, the refusal to interact directly with CADLR within a coordination mechanism for responding to ceasefire violations, publication of the above orders only eight months after the DPR and LPR did so, statements by the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, which in fact disavowed this order in September 2021 and January 2022 and gave commanders on the ground the right to decide on their own to open retaliatory fire depending on the situation without consulting their superiors.

3. The Ukrainian Armed Forces have consistently violated paragraph 2 of the Package of Measures concerning the withdrawal of all heavy weapons by equal distances in order to create a security zone of at least 140 km wide. These violations became particularly evident during the recent shelling of the DPR and LPR territories in February this year.

4. Because of the Ukrainian side, the implementation of the agreements reached following the Paris summit in the Normandy format of 9 December 2019, regarding the development and implementation of an updated demining plan, the disengagement of forces and equipment of the parties in three additional areas and the opening of new crossing points along the line of contact based on humanitarian criteria has been frozen.

5. For seven years there has been no answer to the question of how exactly Ukraine intends to resolve the conflict through peaceful (non-military) means in accordance with paragraph 4 of the Package of Measures, that is, how Kiev sees the future status of Donbas as part of Ukraine.

This is the key question that Ukraine should have answered the day after the withdrawal of heavy weapons. Instead, on July 15, 2020, the Verkhovna Rada passed a resolution on local elections in Ukraine that dismisses the Minsk agreements in principle.

6. Paragraphs 9, 11 and 12 of the Package of Measures, which provide for, among other things, constitutional reform in Ukraine in consultation with and upon agreement by representatives of CADLR within the Contact Group, involving the decentralization as a key element (including a reference to the specificities of certain areas in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, agreed with the representatives of these areas), as well as the adoption of permanent legislation on the special status of CADLR, have not been fulfilled.

Constitutional reform was never carried out in Ukraine. At the same time, a bill on decentralization has been submitted to the Verkhovna Rada that does not provide for the specifics of CADLR agreed upon with their representatives, i.e. there is no mention of the special status of CADLR, nor is there any permanent legislation to this effect.

The Verkhovna Rada annually renewed the law on the special status of certain CADLR, which was not in effect and was unilaterally amended back on 17 March 2015, making its adoption by the republics unacceptable. Kyiv’s refusal to coordinate this law with CADLR makes it impossible to implement paragraph 12 of the Package of Measures regarding the resolution of issues related to local elections, the modalities of which should also be discussed and agreed upon with the republics. 

7. Kyiv has not implemented the agreement reached by the leaders of the Normandy Four at the summit in Paris on 9 December 2019, which provided for the agreement in the Normandy format and the Contact Group on all legal aspects of the special order of local self-government – the special status of CADLR to ensure its effect on a permanent basis, i.e. the incorporation into Ukrainian legislation of the norm of enactment of the law on the special status of Donbas according to the “Steinmeier formula” (“on a temporary basis on the day of the local elections and on a permanent basis following the publication of the OSCE/ODIHR final report”).

8. The implementation of paragraph 5 of the Package of Measures on “ensuring pardon and amnesty by enacting the law prohibiting the prosecution and punishment of persons in connection with the events that took place in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine” was blocked. The law “On the Prohibition of Prosecution and Punishment of Persons in Connection with the Events in the Territory of Donetsk and Luhansk Regions”, which was adopted by the Verkhovna Rada on 16 September 2014, was never signed by the Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada and the President of Ukraine.

9. According to the Package of Measures, on the fifth day after the withdrawal of forces, the process of releasing and exchanging detainees under the “all for all” formula should have been completed. Despite several series of detainee exchanges that took place before April 2020, this provision remains unimplemented. The reason is the refusal of the Ukrainian side to carry out the so-called procedural clearance of detainees previously released and transferred to the republics, which would have made it possible to avoid their re-arrest and imprisonment in the event of visits to Kyiv-controlled territory.

10. Paragraph 8 on “definition of modalities of full resumption of socio-economic ties, including social transfers such as pension payments and other payments”, including the restoration of the segment of the Ukrainian banking system in conflict-affected areas, has also not been implemented. The banking system has not been restored. Kiev has not been willing to negotiate. 

The Ukrainian leadership, obeying the demands of radical nationalists, legalized in March 2017 the socioeconomic and transport blockade of Donbas, which had been imposed de facto in 2014 and aimed to strangle the region.

The Ukrainian government has refused to orderly transfer pensions and social benefits to the region to the residents of Donbas, forcing them to make unsafe trips across the line of contact for that purpose, which is also made very difficult due to the anti-COVID restrictions.

11. Instead of implementing paragraph 10 regarding the “withdrawal of all foreign armed formations, military equipment, as well as mercenaries from the territory of Ukraine under monitoring of the OSCE” and the “disarmament of all illegal groups”, the Ukrainian leadership, with massive support from NATO countries and assistance from Western military instructors, is conducting a large-scale militarization of the country through joint exercises (seven military exercises in 2021, nine planned for 2022) and increasing its military capacity.

Oleksii Reznikov, Minister of Defence, said that as of 16 February 2022, they had already received 2,000 tons of modern weapons and ammunition, including man-portable air defence systems Stinger, antitank missile systems Javelin and NLAW and “other means, which we could only dream of before”. He also pointed out that a plant will soon be built in Ukraine to produce the Turkish strike UAVs Bayraktar. 

The nationalist battalions have still not been disarmed under OSCE supervision, and have instead been incorporated into the Armed Forces of Ukraine and state security forces.

12. Kyiv sabotaged paragraphs 4, 9, 11, and 12 of the Package of Measures, which called for resolving the relevant issues through direct dialogue with CADLR and presented Russia as a party to the conflict. In concrete terms, that was expressed in the refusal of the Ukrainian side to consider any proposals coming from representatives of Donetsk and Luhansk, be it the draft action plan (“road map”) on conflict resolution proposed by them in October 2020, the draft law on special status, etc. 

The refusal of the Ukrainian side to interact directly with CADLR within the framework of the coordination mechanism – the JCCC in its current composition – did not allow for the prevention of ceasefire violations and stabilization of the situation on the line of contact.   

13. As a result, only one provision of the Package of Measures has been implemented to date, concerning the intensification of the activities of the Contact Group, including through the creation of working groups to implement the relevant aspects of the Minsk Agreements.

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Thus, the decisions to recognize the DPR and LPR have been taken against the background of Ukraine’s systematic refusal to implement the Package of Measures, which means a gross and continuing violation of Security Council resolution 2202, which endorsed the document. In fact, by all of its actions, Kyiv has consistently demonstrated that it does not recognize its obligations under the Package of Measures and UN Security Council resolution, making their implementation impossible in practice.