Biden Has Not Taken Ukraine off the Minsk Hook

An informative campaign is unfolding in Ukraine in an attempt to explain to the public how the U.S. has freed Ukrainian politicians from the need to implement the Minsk Agreement. In his talks with the Trilateral Contact Group, an organization consisting of representatives aiming to mediate the armed conflict in Donbass, speaker of the Ukrainian delegation Oleksiy Arestovich stated that there was no longer a catch for Ukraine in the form of the Minsk Agreement, since joint statements from both the U.S. and Ukrainian presidents made no mention of them. Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Oleksii Reznikov stated that the Minsk Agreement was a dead end that would not play a significant role in resolving the conflict in Donbass. A whole pleiad of Ukrainian experts claims that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has won in the U.S.

Talks between U.S. President Joe Biden and Zelenskiy do not really mention terms such as the Minsk Agreement or the Minsk Protocol. Given that both countries, at least officially, support the Minsk Agreement, the document could have mentioned it. But the political situation is such that it is not to Kyiv’s or Washington’s advantage.

The Americans’ motives are as follows. First, in light of the evacuation from Afghanistan and the clearing out of the pro-American regime, the White House needs to show support for other satellite countries, such as Ukraine. And in the current political situation, Zelenskiy’s visit was beneficial for Biden. Another thing is that the Americans were afraid that the Ukrainian president would say something unnecessary since lately, when speaking to the media, he has started criticizing the West for providing Ukraine insufficient support.

However, in Washington, Zelenskiy showed subservience to Biden. For example, he corrected the American president’s interpreter. Zelenskiy thanked Biden for the fact that the U.S. supplied Ukraine with more than 2 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. The American translator translated simply as 2 million. Zelenskiy was indignant and repeated in English that it was more than 2 million. And in general, Zelenskiy did not say anything to journalists that could displease the White House.

Second, even before the events in Afghanistan, Biden’s opponents criticized him for allowing Russia and Germany to complete the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. In their opinion, it was a blow to Ukraine. Therefore, Biden had to demonstrate that he had an equal relationship with the Ukrainian leadership.

Third, the White House now needs a quick victory on the international stage. If the Minsk Agreement could be implemented quickly, or at least substantive progress made in its implementation, the Americans would take on the role of peacekeepers. People from the White House would then say, “yes, we could not resolve the issue in Afghanistan, but we have established peace in Donbass.” However, it is clear that a quick solution to the Ukraine-Donbass issue is out of the question. Mainly because of Kyiv’s position on the issue and the fact that the U.S. will not put pressure on the Maidan People’s Union — an allied group of political parties, non-partisan individuals and public organizations that aims to oppose the current Ukrainian regime and propose a new government. In addition, the White House understands that the Maidan regime in Ukraine is unstable and a serious political cataclysm could lead to its downfall. The implementation of the Minsk Agreement after its rejection by Ukrainian radicals of all types could create a crisis. The White House does not need the fall of another satellite country after the events in Kabul.

Fourth, in geopolitical terms, a prolonged conflict in Donbass is beneficial to Americans in its current state — defined as abnormal peace, abnormal war. This situation keeps both Russia and the EU on edge.

Not surprisingly, on Sept. 5, the anniversary of the signing of the Minsk Protocol, the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv published a post in which it urged Russia to give Ukraine control of the Russian-Donbass border and withdraw its troops from the Donetsk People’s Republic. This shows that the U.S. State Department is completely ignoring the provisions of the document, as the U.S. Embassy’s demands completely contradict it.

As for Kyiv’s motives, Maidan politicians had no intention of implementing any agreements from the beginning. On Sept. 5, 2014, the first Minsk Agreement was signed, which was supposed to end the war and begin a dialogue between Kyiv on one hand, and Luhansk and Donetsk on the other. And on Sept. 7, Yuriy Lutsenko, a Ukrainian politician close to former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, wrote on Facebook that Ukraine should apply the “Croatia treatment” and destroy the Donbass republics by force. Maidan politicians liked to recall the history of the Serbian Krajina, an unrecognized Serbian state in Croatia, which was destroyed by the Croatian army with the full support of the West.

Kyiv wanted to repeat this very experience with the Donbass republics. Ukraine signed both Minsk Agreements only because of the military defeats suffered by the Ukrainian Armed Forces from the Donbass militias. Kyiv’s politicians then ignored their obligations under them. Both Poroshenko and Zelenskiy brought up the agreements only when they needed exposure. Then they agreed to an exchange of prisoners, and then declared it their big victory.

Did Biden let Maidan Ukraine off the Minsk hook? It wasn’t even dependent on it. Despite the fact that the agreements were sanctified by the decision of the U.N. Security Council, no one punished the Ukrainian politicians for non-compliance with the norms of the document, for its wrong interpretation or for open mockery of the peace process. For a long time, the paper played the role of a safety valve that prevented the situation in Donbass from slipping back to the situation in 2014 and early 2015. But in the spring of 2021, it was no longer enough. Only Russian army exercises in southwestern Russia were able to cool the belligerent fervor of Ukrainian politicians. Had they not taken place, there is a high probability that in late spring or early summer, the Ukrainian Armed Forces would have begun full-scale combat operations in Donbass.

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