The United States has warned Russia not to invade Ukraine and urged both countries to return to a set of minsk agreements designed to end a separatist war by Russian-speakers in eastern Ukraine.
What are the Minsk agreements?
- The Minsk Protocol is an agreement which sought to end war in the Donbas region of Ukraine.
- It was written by the Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine, consisting of Ukraine, the Russian Federation, and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), with mediation by the leaders of France and Germany in the so-called Normandy Format.
- Ukraine and the Russian-backed separatists agreed a 12-point ceasefire deal in the capital of Belarus in September 2014. Its provisions included prisoner exchanges, deliveries of humanitarian aid and the withdrawal of heavy weapons.
- 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 in Minsk. The leaders of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine gathered there at the same time and issued a declaration of support for the deal.
- The deal set out a series of 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 there.
Back to Basics
About Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)
- It is the world’s largest security-oriented intergovernmental organization. Its mandate includes issues such as arms control, promotion of human rights, freedom of the press, and fair elections.
- It employs around 3,460 people, mostly in its field operations but also in its secretariat in Vienna, Austria, and its institutions.
- It has its origins in the mid 1975 Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) held in Helsinki, Finland.
- The OSCE is concerned with early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management, and post-conflict rehabilitation.
- Most of its 57 participating countries are in Europe, but there are a few members present in Asia and North America.
- The participating states cover much of the land area of the Northern Hemisphere.
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