Transatlantic Relations Program Nonresident Senior Fellow Adrian Karatnycky writes for The New York Times on why the Minsk agreement is deeply flawed and what the West needs to do to respond to Putin’s strategy:
With a major battle around the rail hub of Debaltseve ending with the withdrawal of Ukrainian government forces, it looks like the tenuous truce in eastern Ukraine may hold. After violence that has left more than 5,600 dead and displaced about 1.6 million people, world leaders hope the cease-fire can be sustained and Ukraine can start to rebuild — even though the Minsk agreement, concluded last week after talks between Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany, is regarded skeptically by many, including some of its European Union architects.
Ukraine’s leaders, however, point to one crucial gain: The Minsk agreement treats the Donbass, the eastern region that includes the Donetsk and Luhansk areas declared “people’s republics” by separatist rebels, as an integral part of Ukraine. Officials note that the declaration recognizing their country’s territorial integrity even appears on the Kremlin’s website. Moreover, they say, the agreement makes no reference to the Donetsk and Luhansk republics and speaks of the rebel regions as subjects of Ukrainian law.