Key points of Ukraine's tattered peace protocol

  • AFP, Kiev
  • Updated: Feb 07, 2015 02:04 IST

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande head to Moscow on Friday to present a new peace plan to Russian leader Vladimir Putin to end separatist violence in eastern Ukraine.

Here are the main points of the tattered peace "protocol" signed by the warring sides in Minsk on September 5. It has collapsed totally since pro-Russian rebels pushed into government-held territory in recent weeks but remains the basis for any future peace.

The warring sides committed themselves to "an immediate bilateral ceasefire".

That truce barely got off the ground with both sides continuing to shell each other around strategic flashpoints. A second ceasefire in December did help dampen down fighting for several weeks. Violence then spiralled again in January as pro-Russian rebels pushed into government-held territory.

Monitors from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) were assigned to carry out the "monitoring and verification" of the ceasefire.

Military withdrawal
The agreement also demanded the withdrawal of "illegal armed groups, military hardware, and all fighters and mercenaries" from Ukraine.

Kiev and its Western allies however say that Putin has continued to pour in arms and troops to bolster the rebellion since the deal was signed.

Russia flatly denies this and claims that hired guns from close Ukrainian partners such as Poland are fighting alongside government forces.

Freeing prisoners
The "immediate" liberation of all those captured by both sides since the start of the conflict was a key part of the agreement.
Prisoner swaps have been conducted since then including an exchange on December 26 that saw hundreds of detainees change hands.

However, both sides claim that prisoners are still being held by their opponents. Among the most prominent is Ukrainian pilot Nadia Savchenko who is on hunger strike in a Moscow psychiatric ward on charges of murder. Kiev says she was spirited out of Ukraine to Russia illegally.

The peace plan called for an "inclusive national dialogue" -- a vague but repeated demand of Moscow -- aimed at agreeing a "decentralisation of power" and immunity from prosecution to those involved in "events that took place in certain parts of (rebel regions) Donetsk and Lugansk".

The protocol made a crucial concession to Kiev by not including the Kremlin's insistent call on Ukraine to be transformed into a "federation" in which eastern regions have the right to form their own diplomatic and trade policies with Russia.

It referred to a promise made upon his May election by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to carry out a "decentralisation of power".

The text does not spell out how large these more independent areas of the east might be.

Under the agreement Ukraine adopted a law on granting "temporary special status" to the rebel-controlled regions and allowing for local elections in December. Another law also envisioned a broad amnesty for those who had fought in the east.

The rebels however rejected these concessions and pushed on with their own polls in November leading Kiev to scrap the laws it had passed.

Ukraine-Russia border
Poroshenko has long argued that he would only be able to guarantee peace when Kiev re-establishes control of Ukraine's porous border with Russia.

The job of making sure that no weapons or fighters cross the 924-kilometre (574-mile) frontier between Russia and the regions of Lugansk and Donetsk falls on a special OSCE observation mission whose size was also not defined.

The agreement says the monitoring should be "constant" but fails to state how long it might last.

The text also calls for the creation of a border "security zone" -- a restricted access area on both sides of the frontier that Kiev has said should be several kilometres (miles) wide.

Humanitarian aid
Assistance for war-shattered regions turned into a diplomatic quagmire when Russia in August started sending humanitarian convoys to the rebel regions that Kiev suspected might be bringing arms.

Yet the protocol makes no reference to such deliveries and devotes only two sentences to reconstruction and relief.
It only calls for "measures to improve the humanitarian situation" and the adoption of an economic recovery programme for Lugansk and Donetsk.

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