US authorities have warned Russia not to invade Ukraine and urged both countries to return to Minsk agreements designed to end a separatist war by Russian speakers in eastern Ukraine.
About the Minsk agreements
- The Minsk agreements are a series of international agreements which sought to end the war in the Donbas region of Ukraine.
- Ukraine and the Russian-backed separatists agreed a 12-point ceasefire deal in the Belarusian capital in September 2014.
- Its provisions included prisoner exchanges, deliveries of humanitarian aid and the withdrawal of heavy weapons, five months into a conflict that had by then killed more than 2,600 people – a toll that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy says has since risen to around 15,000.
- The agreement quickly broke down, with violations by both sides.
- Representatives of Russia, Ukraine, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the leaders of two pro-Russian separatist regions signed a 13-point agreement in February 2015.
- The leaders of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine, gathered in Minsk at the same time, issued a declaration of support for the deal.
- It set out military and political steps that remain unimplemented. A major blockage has been Russia’s insistence that it is not a party to the conflict and therefore is not bound by its terms.
- Point 10, for example, calls for the withdrawal of all foreign armed formations and military equipment from the two disputed regions, Donetsk and Luhansk: Ukraine says this refers to forces from Russia, but Moscow denies it has any forces there.
- The 13 points were, in brief:
- An immediate and comprehensive ceasefire.
- Withdrawal of all heavy weapons by both sides.
- Monitoring and verification by the OSCE.
- To start a dialogue on interim self-government for the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, in accordance with Ukrainian law, and acknowledge their special status by parliamentary resolution.
- A pardon and amnesty for people involved in the fighting.
- An exchange of hostages and prisoners.
- Provision of humanitarian assistance.
- Resumption of socio-economic ties, including pensions.
- Restoration of full control of the state border by the government of Ukraine.
- Withdrawal of all foreign armed formations, military equipment and mercenaries.
- Constitutional reform in Ukraine including decentralisation, with specific mention of Donetsk and Luhansk.
- Elections in Donetsk and Luhansk on terms to be agreed with their representatives.
- Intensifying the work of a Trilateral Contact Group comprising representatives of Russia, Ukraine and the OSCE.
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