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Ukraine’s chance at a peace deal is being stalled by authorities in Kiev, according to Russian president Vladimir Putin. Speaking to Luciano Fontana of Italian newspaper Il Corriere della Sera ahead of his visit to the Vatican next week, Putin urged the U.S. and the European community to force Ukraine’s hand. Speaking with regard to the Minsk Peace Agreement formed in February 2015, Putin stated, “We do not have the power to convince Kiev to carry out everything that was agreed on in Minsk.”
The leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France traveled to Minsk, Belarus, four months ago to discuss a future without war in the Donbass region of Ukraine after the initial cease fire agreement collapsed. Alexander Zakharchenko, current prime minister of self-proclaimed state, the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), and Igor Plotnitsky, leader of self-proclaimed state, Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR), were also in attendance. Overseen by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the parties involved agreed to a new peace agreement that guaranteed a ceasefire as well as the release of all prisoners of war and an amnesty for all those involved in events in the temporarily-occupied territories. It also promised constitutional reform and the withdrawal of all of Russia’s heavy weaponry from the front line. Criticism of the Minsk Peace Agreement claimed it was too similar to the already-failed cease fire pact and that, in giving Russia control over the borders, it was essentially permitting Russia to continue trading arms with, and subsequently supporting, the anti-government, Pro-Russian groups in Donbass.
Putin, however, does not see the Minsk Peace Agreement as being flawed. In the interview with Fontana, the Russian president claimed that the initial purpose of the agreement has already been fulfilled: “The key aspect of the political settlement was to create conditions for this joint work, it was essential to stop the hostilities, to pull back heavy weaponry,” he said, adding, “On the whole, this has been done.” Eager to move forward and to express his desire to help, rather than hinder, the people of Ukraine, Putin criticized the authorities in Kiev and alleged they were intentionally stalling with regards to the Ukraine peace deal. Putin is not alone in believing that officials in Kiev are not necessarily interested in peace, but rather a vengeful attack on Russia through sanctions.
While urging America and the Western world to intervene with Kiev and ensure the implementation of the terms outlaid in the peace agreement, Putin also appeared to show concern for the people of Kiev, criticizing the authorities for not providing adequately for its citizens and cutting itself off from the rest of Ukraine. “They discontinued all social payments. Pensions, benefits, they cut off the banking system and made regular energy supply impossible,” Putin told Fortana, adding that “there is a humanitarian disaster in those regions and everybody is pretending that nothing is wrong.” Putin suggested Europe should take responsibility for the humanitarian and financial aid required in the region, saying, “I believe that the European Union could surely provide greater financial assistance to Ukraine.”
Officials in Ukraine are reported to have told armed forces patrols to prepare for a full scale invasion from Russia and with the recent escalation in fighting within the eastern regions of the country, they can be forgiven for being cautious. President Putin however, has reassured the media that Russia can be trusted by the West, a claim he may find easier to prove if only Kiev would cease stalling on the Ukraine peace deal.
By Alison Klippenstein
International Business Times: Putin Blames Ukraine For Stalling Peace Deal, Says Russia Wants Peace
Atlantic Council: The Flawed Minsk Peace Accord—And How to Use It
Official Internet of the President of Russia: Interview to the Italian newspaper Il Corriere della Sera
ABC News: Ukraine conflict: Don’t be afraid of Russia, Vladimir Putin tells West
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In-line Wikimedia Photo Courtesy of Hakan Henriksson – Creative Commons License