Skip to main content

World A peace deal for Ukraine: Who won and lost in the Minsk agreement

Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko, left, addresses journalists as he takes part in peace talks on resolving the Ukrainian crisis in Minsk, Belarus, on Feb. 12, 2015.

MYKHAILO PALINCHAK/UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE/REUTERS

The peace deal for eastern Ukraine reached on Thursday sets clear deadlines for a ceasefire and the withdrawal of heavy weapons, but resolution of the main political and economic issues behind the conflict was made conditional on a series of difficult steps and put off until the end of the year.

The deal made by the leaders of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine builds on a ceasefire agreement that was reached in September and violated almost immediately. Here is a look at what they did and did not agree upon, and who won and lost in the process.

CEASEFIRE

Story continues below advertisement

Ukrainian troops and Russian-backed separatist forces are to begin an "immediate and comprehensive" ceasefire by the start of Sunday (5 p.m. ET on Saturday).

HEAVY WEAPONS WITHDRAWAL

Both sides are to pull heavy weapons back from the front line from 25 kilometres to 70 kilometres depending on their calibre, creating a much wider buffer zone than specified under the September agreement. This should help the separatists secure their hold on Donetsk, the main city under their control, which is now within range of government artillery.

The withdrawals, which are to begin Monday and be completed within two weeks, are to be monitored by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. There is no provision for outside peacekeepers, something Ukraine had opposed, fearing it would open the door for troops loyal to Moscow.

FOREIGN FIGHTERS

All foreign fighters, "mercenaries" and their weapons are to leave Ukraine, a reference to the troops that Ukraine and the West accuse Russia of sending into eastern Ukraine. Moscow has insisted that the Russians in eastern Ukraine are volunteers, but its denial is belied by the sheer number of sophisticated heavy weapons in rebel hands.

PRISONERS

Story continues below advertisement

All prisoners on both sides are to be released no later than five days after the withdrawal of heavy weapons. Russia has been under pressure from the West to free Nadezhda Savchenko, a Ukrainian air force officer who has been on a hunger strike in a Russian prison for more than two months. The Ukrainian government would likely portray her release as a major concession. Russia, however, has charged her with involvement in the deaths of two Russian journalists in eastern Ukraine, and an influential member of parliament said Thursday that she should stand trial.

ELECTIONS

In a win for Ukraine, the separatist Donetsk and Lugansk regions, which held their own elections last fall, are obliged to hold new elections under Ukrainian law. The vote is to be monitored by international observers under the OSCE.

BORDER CONTROL

In a major victory for Russia, restoration of Ukrainian control over the border with Russia in separatist-controlled areas is conditional on Ukraine amending its constitution to grant wide powers to the eastern regions, including the right to form their own police force and trade freely with Russia. The deal sets a target date of the end of the year.

This gives Russia what it wants most: leverage over its western neighbour, which it can use to prevent Ukraine from ever joining NATO. The concession is certain to trigger heated political debate in Ukraine, which could derail implementation.

Story continues below advertisement

ECONOMY

In another win for Russia, Ukraine is obliged to restore banking services to the rebel regions and resume social payments, including pensions and salaries of those on the government payroll, including doctors and teachers. No deadline was set. The Ukrainian government froze all budget payments in November.

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter