News / Europe

    For Ukrainians, Minsk Agreements 'Poison'

    For Ukrainians, Minsk Agreements are 'Poison'i
    X
    March 02, 2016 4:11 PM
    Two years after the start of the Ukraine conflict, Ukrainians are coming under pressure from the West and Russia to comply with the Minsk agreements, despite the failure of Russia to provide the necessary security conditions. VOA Europe Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Kyiv and the scene of a bloody crackdown two years ago by forces loyal to ousted Russian-backed leader Viktor Yanukovych.
    Luis Ramirez

    Two years after the start of the Ukraine conflict, Ukrainians are coming under pressure from the West and Russia to comply with the Minsk agreements, and many here doubt the country will be able to enact the overdue constitutional reforms required to implement the peace deal.

    Politicians and analysts say Ukraine is being cornered by both Russia and the West to implement the deal, which requires granting greater autonomy to the separatist-controlled Donetsk and Luhansk regions and take other actions they believe will eventually lead to the eventual loss of more territory.

    “The West says we have to implement this Minsk agreement, which for Ukraine is poison,” Alexey Arestovich, a former Ukrainian intelligence officer and military analyst, told VOA. “It is not supported by society and is just not possible.”

    Ukraine accuses Russia of failing to provide the necessary security conditions to implement the peace deal, especially as Russian-backed separatists intensify their attacks in the country’s east. Holding regional elections, as mandated by the peace deal, they say, is impossible as the fighting continues.

    Ongoing war

    Memorials mark the spots where demonstrators were massacred during the 2014 Maidan Revolution in Kyiv. (L. Ramirez / VOA)
    Memorials mark the spots where demonstrators were massacred during the 2014 Maidan Revolution in Kyiv. (L. Ramirez / VOA)

    The Minsk deal — signed in September 2014 under the auspices of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) — calls for the decentralization of power and Ukraine’s adoption of laws providing for self-governance in some districts of the Donetsk and Luhansk, regions currently controlled by Russian-backed separatists.

    Politicians warn that enacting reforms to allow autonomy to the regions will result in upheaval.

    “You cannot do the peace talks and [create a] political situation to give more autonomy to some other region while other regions will say, ‘wait a second, why these guys took [up] weapons and secured more money, more power, and their own militias, while our guys are dying there for their having more power,’” Alex Ryabchyn, a member of Parliament from Donetsk, told VOA.

    There is concern here that the European Union may not renew Russian sanctions this year if Ukraine does not implement Minsk. Ukraine worries that complying may ultimately result in loss of more territory and political turmoil.

    Meanwhile, Russia points to Ukraine’s failure to enact the constitutional reforms as a sign Kyiv is not doing its share to meet the deal.

    Memorials mark the spots where demonstrators were massacred during the 2014 Maidan Revolution in Kyiv. (L. Ramirez / VOA)
    Memorials mark the spots where demonstrators were massacred during the 2014 Maidan Revolution in Kyiv. (L. Ramirez / VOA)

    Western ambivalence

    U.S. leaders watched with concern last month as the government led by reformist, pro-Western President Petro Poroshenko nearly collapsed as his Prime Minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, narrowly survived a no-confidence vote in Parliament.

    The United States has urged Ukraine’s leaders to do more to combat lingering corruption and has provided support for those efforts.

    But analysts in Kyiv accuse the West and especially the United States of not having a clear strategy on Ukraine.

    “It seems they don’t know whether they want to consider Ukraine as part of the West or not,” said Arestovich expressing long-standing complaints about the Obama administration’s refusal to provide weaponry to the country.

    ​Ukrainian leaders are worried that the rest of the world may be forgetting about the conflict in their country and see the pressure to comply with Minsk as a sign of impatience among E.U. members, especially Germany and France, as they contemplate lifting sanctions on Russia.

    Ryabchyn said he will not support elections in Donetsk as long as Russian-backed forces are there to intimidate any candidate who is not pro-Russian.

    “The question is what does the West want, elections according to past democratic standards or just resolve this election just to forget about Ukraine to do some kind of election, some kind of electoral process and just to forget about Ukraine, ” the lawmaker said.

    Ukrainian officials say their government agreed to the Minsk protocols only as a result of pressure from the U.S. and the European Union.

    Mykola Andrievsky, a Maidan protester, recalls how he helped carry corpses of demonstrators gunned down by ousted President Viktor Yanukvych's forces two years ago. (L. Ramirez / VOA)
    Mykola Andrievsky, a Maidan protester, recalls how he helped carry corpses of demonstrators gunned down by ousted President Viktor Yanukvych's forces two years ago. (L. Ramirez / VOA)

    Maidan anniversary

    Kyiv last month marked the second anniversary of the bloody crackdown on protesters two years ago by former President Viktor Yanukovyh’s forces during the Maidan Revolution, also known as the “Revolution of Dignity,” which was largely about self-determination.

    Maidan demonstrator Mykola Andrievsky returned to the square in central Kyiv on Tuesday, remembering how he helped carry away the corpses of his fallen comrades. He reflected on the pressure that Ukraine is now facing from both the West and Russia to act, some believe, against its national interests.

    “It’s true the cost we have paid is enormous. Many lives were lost,” he told VOA. “Now, after two years from Maidan, it is difficult to say if these young men and women gave their lives in vain.” 

    You May Like

    US Lawmakers Vow to Continue Immigrant Program for Afghan Interpreters

    Congressional inaction threatens funding for effort which began in 2008 and has allowed more than 20,000 interpreters, their family members to immigrate to US

    Brexit's Impact on Russia Stirs Concern

    Some analysts see Brexit aiding Putin's plans to destabilize European politics; others note that an economically unstable Europe is not in Moscow's interests

    US to Train Cambodian Government on Combating Cybercrime

    Concerns raised over drafting of law, as critics fear cybercrime regulations could be used to restrict freedom of expression and stifle political dissent

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roari
    X
    June 28, 2016 10:33 AM
    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora