Representative of the US State Department on Ukraine Kurt Volker,
made some comments that reflect the US’s overall propensity to
ignore international treaties and international law, during a panel
discussion at the Hudson Institute. In comments contrary to the
letter and spirit of the Minsk II Agreement, he said that the DPR and
the LPR should be eliminated. He based his lacking opinion, which
exists outside of rational interpretation of contract law, in some
thought that they not comply with the Constitution of Ukraine.
familiar with the language of the Minsk Agreement know that it
recognizes the DPR and LPR and in fact calls for constitutional
changes, which to date has not been carried out by Ukraine. Ukraine
lost the right to its present constitution and former territorial
boundaries at the Battle of Debaltseve, waged between January 17th
and Feburary 20th, 2015, and this was memorialized in the language of
the Minsk II Agreement that also served as a cease-fire, which
established the present line of contact.
global audiences, Volker said:
so-called Lugansk People’s Republic and the Donetsk People’s
Republic are the entities created by Russia with the aim of
generating in place of political reality in order to help disguise
the role of the Russian Federation and to strengthen the ongoing
conflict, and they must be eliminated,” .
is no place for them in the Ukrainian constitutional order. The Minsk
agreements are aimed at restoring the sovereignty and territorial
integrity of Ukraine, and these entities must disappear,” the US
special envoy stressed.
proposes instead that a ‘UN peacekeeping force’ be established –
naturally consisting of NATO and US forces. How exactly will this
commandment that the DPR and LPR must suddenly ‘cease’ to exist,
come about? This seems contrary to the fact that these governments
already have a monopoly on the use of force, as established at the
Battle of Debatlseve. Of course the only answer is – to relaunch
the war, full bore. As was the case last time, this saw the ethnic
cleansing of the whole region, with countless scores, perhaps even
hundreds of thousands killed, and over a million internally
displaced, and a million more who fled to Russia. In terms of
calculating the deceased, it is difficult to trust either US or
Russian figures, as both sides had different reasons for wanting to
downplay the cost of this conflict in terms of civilian lives.
the reality is: the Minsk Agreement specifically calls for these very
changes to the constitutional order. This was meant to avoid another
human catastrophe. Volker proposes to double down on human tragedy.
His desires have nothing to do with the actual ceasefire, called the
Minsk II Agreement.
wrong about restoring sovereignty; the language about restoring
sovereignty and territorial integrity are to be carried out after the
constitutional changes have been made. Those constitutional changes
include recognizing the de facto governments of the LPR and DPR as
regions of a de facto federal Ukrainian system, essentially as
autonomous regions with dual-power structures (autonomous and
federal). This was written about extensively in a 5,000+ word
analytic piece which explored both the context and legal framework
(including interpretation), by this author. What was written then, on
February 19th, 2015 in ‘The Beautiful Truth about Minsk II…’:
agreement has 13 points, most of which use terms which at first
glance seem to compel certain actions, but in fact rather are
contingent upon events which either do not have a specific time
table, attach a time table to events which do not have a time table
or are not executable, or still require future agreement.
will figure prominently in the coming disagreements over
implementation is the meaning of point 2 and point 4. The Minsk II
agreement of February 12th refers back to the Minsk Memorandum of
19th September twice. These are in relation to the borders, one way
or another, of Novorossiya.
point 2 we read:
of all heavy weapons by both sides to equal distance with the aim of
creation of a security zone on minimum 50 kilometres (31 mi) apart
for artillery of 100mm calibre or more, and a security zone of 70
kilometres (43 mi) for MLRS and 140 kilometres (87 mi) for MLRS
Tornado-S, Uragan, Smerch, and Tochka U tactical missile systems:
for Ukrainian troops, from actual line of contact;
for armed formations of particular districts of Donetsk and Luhansk
oblasts of Ukraine, from the contact line in accordance with the
Minsk Memorandum as of 19 September 2014
pullout of the above-mentioned heavy weapons must start no later than
the second day after the start of the ceasefire and finish within 14
process will be assisted by OSCE with the support of the Trilateral
was premised on the fact that the language of the agreement, in
connection with these questions, reads as follows (also pay attention
to the signatories).
Carrying out constitutional reform in Ukraine with a new constitution
entering into force by the end of 2015 providing for 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 adopting permanent
legislation on the special status of certain areas of the Donetsk and
Luhansk regions in line with measures as set out in the footnote
until the end of 2015.
Based on the Law of Ukraine “On interim local self-government order
in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions”, questions
related to local elections will be discussed and agreed upon with
representatives of certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions
in the framework of the Trilateral Contact Group. Elections will be
held in accordance with relevant OSCE standards and monitored by
Intensify the work of the Trilateral Contact Group including through
the establishment of working groups on the implementation of relevant
aspects of the Minsk agreements.
will reflect the composition of the Trilateral Contact Group.
is important to remember the Minsk II was based on the previous
September 14th Minsk Protocol Agreement, which produced the
Trilateral Contact Group, and that Minsk II finds its rationale and
origin in that agreement. Like Minsk II, among the signers of the
Minsk protocol Agreement were the then DPR and LPR leaders Alexander
Zakharchenko and Igor Plotnitsky
is no language which indicates that these entities, DPR and LPR would
at any time cease to exist, and given that they are signatories and
guarantors, it would mean that the force of Minsk II relies on the
governments of the DPR and LPR, from which their own authority
is why and how the September 2015 Minsk Protocol Agreement carries
forward into the Trilateral Contact Group, which then had the
authority to sign the Minsk II Agreement of February 12th, 2015.
These cannot be disconnected from each other. There are no features
of this which can rationally allow for the disbandment of the DPR and
in an alternative universe, according to Volker, it may take 6 months
to prepare local elections in the Donbass, but only after the full
deployment of the peacekeeping forces there. This is contrary to the
language and meaning of the agreement.
Special Representative of the State Department is somehow sure that
the assistance of the peacekeeping mission in the implementation of
the Minsk Agreement should create a transitional period of transfer
of control in the Donbass first “from Russia to the UN” and then
to Ukraine. This is incoherent, irrational, and places ‘control by
Russia’ in his framework when in fact the LPR and DPR leaders were
signatories, as well as being part of the Trilateral Contact Group
which gave the agreement its authority.
this case, he imagines that the transfer of Donbass territories under
the auspices of Ukraine will be possible only after organizing and
holding local elections, “when there is security, when amnesty will
be provided to the persons who committed crimes that are part of the
conflict, when a special status is assigned.” Here he uses language
in the agreement ‘amnesty’ and ‘special status’, but insists
on elections under the central authority of Kiev to determine the
leadership of LPR and DRR, which is contrary both to the letter and
intent of the agreement.
not only places certain necessary parts of the agreement in the wrong
order, but in so doing, speaks against the agreement itself while
claiming to want to see it fulfilled. This has mirrored Poroshenko’s
own comments since February 2015, when it became obvious that Ukraine
had no intention to fulfill it’s part of the agreement.
short, Ukraine must undergo constitutional reforms which recognize
the ‘special status’ of the Donbass breakaway republics, which de
facto federalizes governance in the two easternmost regions of
then the transition to Ukrainian control,” Volker said and added
that the timing of these processes has yet to be consolidated.
ultimately there is to be a transition to Ukrainian control, but this
is after a new constitution – then requiring new elections, and
hence a new government – i.e, not one led by Poroshenko, unless he
manages to win a clean election with voters in the Donbass actually
participating, instead of hiding in cellars and basements while being
shelled and ethnically cleansed from their villages and cities. In
fact that elections were carried out in Ukraine while in this state
of emergency, were contrary to the Ukrainian constitution as it
exists today – that is, what ought to be in force.
noted, the deployment of UN peacekeepers may take several months from
the moment of agreeing a political agreement on this matter.
may take another 6 months to organize local elections. Since the
elections, and they will be confirmed as free and fair, the
transition period will begin,” Volker said.
what he means is that the elections which have already taken place in
the DPR and LPR are not valid, even though these were carried out by
the same LPR and DPR signatories to the very Minsk agreement which he
butchers while referring to.
reality, the onus this whole time has been on Ukraine to carry out
two major parts of the agreement, which so far they have failed in:
a.) A real ceasefire, which means the withdraw of heavy weapons from
the line of contact and the cessation of hostilities, and b.)
constitutional reform granting special status, de facto
federalization, to the break-away republics
given that Volker is the executive director of the McCain institute,
none of this comes as any surprise. Meanwhile, back in reality, the
DPR and LPR show no signs of ever coming under Kiev’s authority any