Published: 20 July 2017 Author: Stefan Talmon
In the wake of the Euromaidan revolution in Ukraine in February 2014, the Russian Federation annexed the Crimean peninsula in March of the same year and tensions between pro-Russian groups in the Eastern Ukrainian oblasts of Donetsk and Lugansk and the central government in Kiev developed into an outright armed conflict. In April 2014, the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics were established which, in May of the same year, declared their independence from Ukraine. On 5 September 2014, the Ukrainian Government and the pro-Russian separatists signed a 12-point Protocol in the Belorussian capital Minsk (“Minsk Protocol”) which provided, inter alia, for an immediate ceasefire and the decentralization of power in Ukraine by means of enacting a Law of Ukraine “On interim local self-government order in certain areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions”. By January 2015, however, the Minsk Protocol ceasefire had completely collapsed and renewed heavy fighting caused significant concern in Germany, especially after proposals to send armaments to Ukraine were made in the United States of America.
At the initiative of Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande the leaders of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine conducted talks at Minsk on 11 and 12 February 2015 which led to a 13-point package of measures for the implementation of the Minsk Protocol (“Minsk II Agreement”), including an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire monitored by the Organization of Security and Co-operation in Europe (“OSCE”), the withdrawal of heavy weapons, the conduct of local elections in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions and the carrying out of constitutional reform in Ukraine with the adoption of a new constitution providing for decentralization and a special status of certain areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions. The Minsk II Agreement was subsequently endorsed by the United Nations Security Council. However, by 2017 neither had constitutional reform had been carried out nor had local elections been held in the separatist areas. (more…)