As peace talks in Minsk commenced Wednesday with the presence of many European leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, many are curious what stipulations they should be looking for. The immediate concern of most onlookers is that this round of peace talks will be as productive as the agreement reached in September which President Barack Obama has continued to cite as having been violated almost completely by Russian separatists.
In an interview yesterday, addressing his hypothetical Proposed Draft Agreement To Resolve The Conflict Between Russia and Ukraine, D.C. Internal Investigations/Russian Affairs Attorney and Adjunct Professor at Washington College of Law, Ethan S. Burger, discussed what is influencing the negotiations in Minsk today. In the September agreement, very specific provisions were laid out. Burger’s proposed agreement overlapped to some degree with this initial protocol, yet outlined a few points not included.
The stipulations in the original Ukrainian peace talks included a 12-point list that required an immediate cease-fire, removal of heavy military equipment and assurance that there would be no criminal prosecution for those involved in the conflict. It also ensured the safety of persons involved in the talks and that the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) would oversee the implementation the protocol inside Ukrainian borders.
Burger’s proposed draft branched away by including a scenario for addressing citizenship for those who might be faced with passport complications following a cease-fire. Currently, with an amount of projected Russian troops within Ukrainian borders numbered in the thousands, and the number of Ukrainians that have fled to Russia increasing, the total number of displaced individuals following the eventual end of this conflict will be an issue that will need to be addressed.
A second issue included in Burger’s draft and not found in the September protocol is the issue of the recently-enacted Russian law that requires the re-registration of NGOs within Russian borders as foreign entities if they receive any funds from abroad. Burger takes the position that it may be more productive to the EU and NATO to enforce the laws that are in place rather than create sanctions in a punitive manner. Many of the NGOs within Russia’s borders are humanitarian-focused and being targeted by the Russian government, which places an undue burden on their aim.
Other issues will certainly be discussed in Minsk in the coming days. For example, a very important concern is where the cease-fire line will be drawn. It has been reported that over 200 square miles of Ukrainian land has been further usurped since the last agreement was signed. Although Russia continues to assert they are not supporting this conflict, others would suggest Russia intends to retain the territory it has gained. Russia has made clear that Ukrainian troops in southeastern Ukraine should leave.
While many are looking for what will be dictated in this second round of peace talks concerning the Ukraine conflict, the violence seems to continue relentlessly. Putin said that he would not attend these talks if there were not going to be a chance for resolution. He arrived in Minsk Wednesday morning and if this is an indication of whether these talks will be productive, a cease-fire may happen even in the midst of the violence that continue in Donetsk.
By Joel Wickwire
The New York Times
Interview with Ethan S. Burger – Author of Proposed Draft Agreement To Resolve The Conflict Between Russia and Ukraine
Photo by Steve Evans – License
Photo by Matt Shalvatis – License