The Minsk agreements “dead” and hybrid annexation continues – experts to Donbas

Experts doubt that Putin will dare to the annexation of Donbas. But Ukraine’s withdrawal from Minsk, the Kremlin can exploit

Several rounds of talks with political advisers to the leaders of the “Normandy format” of 12 June in Paris and on 3 July in Berlin, the developments in the Donbas has not brought. According to the German publication Spiegel, at a meeting in Germany Moscow has actually put forward an ultimatum to Ukraine – until 6 July at the meeting of the TAG in Minsk to present the draft changes to the Ukrainian Constitution that would provide special status of Donbass. Later, the Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine, first Deputy head of the Ukrainian delegation to the TAG Alexey Reznikov said that at the meeting of the advisers of the leaders of the “Normandy format”, which took place on 3 July in Berlin, the Russian side did not put ultimatums to Ukraine, and the Ukrainian delegation explained that in the Constitution there can be no “special status”.


In the understanding of the Kremlin’s special status is the federalization of Ukraine with the right of veto of Donbass, which will control Russia for any foreign movement of Kiev. That is, in fact, the dismantling of Ukraine’s sovereignty. According to the Kremlin, the country must forever remain in the sphere of influence of the Russian Federation.

The scandal at the end of another round of consultations of the TAG on the evening of 8 July broke out on the background of statements of the representative of Russia in the TAG Boris Gryzlov for “the establishment in Ukraine of two States.” In an interview with “Today” (the full version will be published on Monday, July 13 – Ed.) the Minister of foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba said Gryzlov, having made such a statement, “postevca coast”. The foreign Ministry has already sent letters to the foreign Ministers “channel format” on the inadmissibility of such statements.

In fact, the results of the next round of consultations of the TAG on the special status of Donbass and the change of the Ukrainian Constitution were not discussed. And the next day in an interview with Russian media, Deputy head of the Russian presidential Administration Dmitry Kozak said that Ukraine’s withdrawal from Minsk by the end of the world to Moscow will not. Although just a couple of days ago Kozak spoke about the finalization of the parties additional set of measures to cease-fire. It is obvious that Moscow links the political and security issues of Minsk, which does not suit Ukraine, which continues to lose its military.

In parallel, through their puppets, the Russian propaganda throws abstracts on the accession of the so-called “DNR”/”LNR” to Russia. Similar information disseminated about the possible membership of Russia occupied Georgia’s Abkhazia and South Ossetia.


Does the possibility of further Russian occupation and annexation ORDO on the Crimean scenario? Whether Kiev nudge Moscow’s statements on withdrawal from the Minsk and reformatting the “Normandy format”? Or Ukraine can liberate and regain the Russian-occupied Donbas? All of these issues the website “Today” asked the leading Ukrainian experts.

Elena Snigir, expert of the Centre for global studies “Strategy XXI”

Фото: Snihyr

Photo: Snihyr

“Recently from the Ukraine sounds a lot of statements on the possible revision of the Minsk agreements. That is, if they don’t work like that, it may be advisable to reconsider that they have earned. It was a good idea, but it’s unclear what this will mean in practice. We are no longer working on the agenda of the Minsk agreements? What items are we excluding? What we say in return? What will trigger an exit of Ukraine from Minsk?

We remember that “Minsk-2” was signed when Russia had violated “Minsk-1”. That is, something has to happen in order to start a new process. Who is going to sign a new Minsk? Because Russia just say that they’re generally not party to the conflict, Ukraine can do whatever it wants to conclude a new agreement with the representatives of the so-called “DNR”/”LNR”. This is a very interesting controversial issue. I hope that Ukrainian officials are prepared for all possible scenarios.


How can it be from my point of view? We can offer your agenda for using an international site. Because Minsk does not work, we put to the security Council or the UN General Assembly the question of the introduction of the peacekeeping mission and the interim transitional administration in the Donbas. Perhaps this will be the beginning of a new process. But I don’t yet fully see the Ukrainian plan. The only thing I’m sure Russia is, perhaps, even will not carry out an escalation, but will try this exit of Ukraine from “Minsk” to use once again, to sit at the negotiating table the name of Ukraine and militants.

Russia has more room to maneuver in different situations. Hypothetically, if Ukraine declares the revision of the Minsk agreements, Russia may make the next step towards integration of these territories into the Russian socio-economic plane. I’m not saying that Russia declares integration of these territories. They do not even with Abkhazia and South Ossetia, de facto integrating them in Russia.

In the case of the Donbas Russia States that it is Ukrainian territory. But if Ukraine will be decided on a more bold step, breaking the status quo, it is obvious that Russia can do something in response, and we must be ready for it. Certification has been, the ruble goes there…the Script of the annexation Moscow to launch will not, because that would mean that it will take on a huge new economic and political commitments. She don’t need it now. Russia wants to make this site a perennial problem for Ukraine.”

Oleksiy Melnyk, co-Director of foreign policy programmes and international security, international projects coordinator at the Razumkov Center




“Ukraine has enough grounds to raise the question of whether further negotiations in the format of the Minsk agreements, taking into account their low efficiency and apparent hopelessness. But the right moment had been missed at the end of 2015 with the expiry of the formal period of performance of the Minsk agreements.

Despite some frustration of the Kremlin in the negotiability of the President Zelensky and the weakening of the interest of Russian representatives in meetings of the TAG in Minsk against the background of the failure of the ideas of the Cossack Yermak on the Advisory Council, the Russians are quite irritated react on possible refusal of Ukraine from the “Minsk-2”. There is the question of Russia’s interest in continuing negotiations in the pipeline, as well as possible further steps of the Kremlin in case of transfer of Bank to the plan “B”.

In this case, Moscow is losing one of the instruments of influence on Ukraine and the Western partners through negotiations within the framework imposed by the force of the agreements. But Russia obviously has nothing to lose in opportunities to waste time, control over the intensity of the fighting or the level “freeze” negotiations and conflict. Moreover, the Kremlin will try to use this solution. This is unlikely to change the situation dramatically, but will give more “weighty” arguments Russians in shifting responsibility for the freezing of the conflict on the official Kiev.

Ukraine’s withdrawal from Minsk to intensify initiatives to loosening of the sanctions regime. It is clear that the basic reason (the annexation and occupation of Crimea, Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine at the Donbass) the adoption and continuation of sanctions has not changed, but the unilateral withdrawal of the Ukrainian side from this “uncontested” and the endless negotiation process can be used as a convenient excuse.

The Kremlin’s awareness of the impossibility of further advancing the political part of Minsk agreements will probably lead to enhancement of the hybrid scenario of annexation ORDO. Under hybrid annexation should be understood further certification, integration into economic and socio-cultural space of Russia. The possibility of the Crimean pseudo-referendum scenario and the consideration by the state Duma on the following day, the inclusion of these two “fragments” of the Russian Federation, in my opinion, almost zero. Most likely, in the near future ARDLA waiting for the fate of Abkhazia, South Ossetia or Transnistria. For Russia, these territories are interesting as a source of labor, as a way of solving demographic problems, as an additional voice of the newly-minted loyal citizens for the next Russian elections and referendums.

Finally, one argument in defense position on the advisability of continuing the negotiations in the pipeline and recommendations for strengthening its effectiveness, or rather the effectiveness of official communication around the process.

The Minsk process, as you know, is a component of the “Norman format”. I share the position of Deputy Prime Minister Alexei Reznikov, where he evaluates the TAG as a “logistics platform” to discuss the possibilities of implementation of political agreements or discussions of certain technical and tactical issues. The latest example is the fire in the Luhansk region, where it was possible to negotiate with the opposite party about cease-fire in extinguishing the fire. This is one example of the daily problems of tactical level for which needs this or another forum which would have no relation to the politics of the Minsk agreements.

To enhance the effectiveness of information support for the negotiations in the pipeline and, possibly, influence their content, in my opinion, need to do constant emphasis on the fact that the three parties are the OSCE, Russia and Ukraine. Unfortunately, after 6 years since the war began there is a need for reminders to the Russian side, international partners and the Ukrainian society about the present status of the so-called “representatives ORDO” as representatives of the Russian occupying authorities, not the people of Donbass, or the self-side TAG”.

Serhiy SOLODKY, first Deputy Director of the Center “new Europe”together

Фото: Solodkyy

Photo: Solodkyy

“The release of the “Minsk”. It is impossible to escape from what is actually long been dead. The Minsk agreements are really “died” a few days after signing – exactly when Russia refused to comply with their first position. It is on Moscow responsible for their breakdown and failure. Russia can be considered a party, which has long been out of the Minsk agreements.

First of all, this document called for a cease-fire since February 15 2015. What made this day Russia? Continued operation to capture debaltseve. Russia in words stays true to the Minsk agreements, in fact, ignores all provisions. In understanding of Moscow Ukraine must execute this document. We are talking about unilateral concessions.

Certain initiatives of the President Zelensky, to unblock the negotiation process, as we see, was not successful. Naive expectations of fans of the dialogue with Russia is not true: were these foreign observers, who for unknown reasons had hoped that with the change of power in Ukraine will change Moscow’s behavior.

Perhaps, when talking about the output from Minsk, imply the cessation of all dialogue within the TAG. Will it help? Unlikely. Except in certain circumstances, will facilitate the negotiation platform restart. However, there are doubts. In any case, the withdrawal from negotiations of Ukraine can not perceive our partners in the EU. Therefore, if for us it is important, for example, EU sanctions policy against Russia, it is necessary to make appropriate decisions within the framework of honest consultation primarily with German diplomats. In fact, we heard that the Chancellor Merkel is not averse to modernization of the Minsk agreements. It is clear that Russia does not want it.

Join Russia ORDO? In fact, she already did. Will issue whether it is legally? Yet I see no reason for this. Russia is experiencing the effectiveness of the negotiation line that has long been taken to be a mediator in public, to push strongly for Ukraine to make the Russian conditions, to strengthen its position in the occupied territories. Geographical appetites of Russia much more than the part of the occupied territories of Donbass.

Ukraine should make clear to the Germans and French: you can see that we did more than I should have and could have. Russia continues to take an aggressive and destructive stance. And here is already to hear, for example, the German side, what to do with a party that thwarts any attempt to restore peace? Isn’t it time to declare not continue sanctions, but imposing new and more stringent? Because this game with the alleged implementation of the “Minsk” Russia can last for a long time”.

Mykhailo Samus, assistant Director for international Affairs of the research Center for army, conversion and disarmament

Фото: Samus

Photo: Samus

“Russia may take the Donbass only when it will be beneficial to Russia itself. Now to carry out some military operations to Annex the Donbass, it is simply not profitable. It will strengthen the sanctions will make it even more problematic position of Russia and Putin personally in the international arena that it is not very necessary in terms of socio-economic crisis and falling energy prices. Today the situation in the Donbas Putin is quite happy, the conflict continues, and the Donbass remains wound on the body of Ukraine.

Putin’s motive – or all of Ukraine is under control, or Donbass, which will be under the control of Russia, but in the middle of the political body of Ukraine. It remains the main concept, which is implemented by Putin.

For Ukraine there are three scenarios of action. The first is the continuation of the implementation of the Minsk agreements, as they were recorded in 2014-2015, which is disadvantageous for Ukraine. An algorithm that is based on, presupposes changes in the Ukrainian legislation and the Constitution, and then to the fulfillment of Russia’s security part – out its military units and mercenaries from the Donbas and the transfer of control over the border. Second – to withdraw from the Minsk agreements, which, again, is advantageous to Russia. In this case, Moscow can say that Ukraine wants to fulfill its obligations, so it is necessary to lift the sanctions against Ukraine and to enter. The third is to continue the tactics of freezing the conflict, achieving its goals in its own interests.

What I mean? To say that the Minsk agreement can occur only if there is a change in the sequence: first, the implementation of the security part (the withdrawal of Russian troops, the transfer of border control, security preparations for the elections), and only then – political changes in the laws and the Constitution. But Russia will not go for it. This means that we will be approximately in the same condition as now. For Ukraine, I believe, is the best option, because then Russia did not reach their goals – the destruction of Ukraine fully or part of a controlled of Donbass Russia in the political “body” of Ukraine.

Instead, this frozen conflict, Ukraine should itself carry out activities with the local population in the occupied territories and to change military tactics. We have to resort to active measures, but asymmetrically. If Russian snipers killed Ukrainian soldiers, Ukraine should use attack drones Bayraktar. And say this is so that while Russian snipers kill our soldiers, we will carry out such activities. This is an occupied Ukrainian territory, where Ukraine can act as anyone, defending his soldiers, and their territorial integrity and sovereignty. European partners it will not say anything. Russia also formally nothing to say, because it is, according to them, alleged internal conflict. But on the other hand, against drones and air defense system they can’t use because Bayraktar may operate from the territory controlled by Ukraine, not reaching occupied.”

Recall that in the first podkarantinnoy an interview with Russian Federal TV channel, Vladimir Putin spoke for the first time territorial claims to the countries of the former Soviet camp: