Ukraine War: The 2015 Minsk II Betrayal

Angela Merkel
Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel

Immediately following the Ukrainian “Maidan Revolution” of February 2014, in which Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was forced from office by a U.S. State Department, CIA, and British MI6 backed and engineered coup d’état, the predominantly Russian-speaking  oblasts (states or provinces) of Crimea, Donetsk, and Lugansk applied to the Russian Federation Duma (Legislature) to become parts of the Russian Federation. These three oblasts have about 9.3 million of Ukraine’s 2020 population of 44 million.

There are six other predominantly Russian-speaking oblasts in eastern and southern Ukraine, which also demonstrated their unhappiness with the Maidan Revolution and coup: Odessa, Zaporizhia, Mykolaiv, Kharkiv,  Dnepropetrovsk, and Kherson. Yanukovych received 60 to 90 percent of the 2010 presidential vote in the nine predominantly Russian-speaking Ukrainian oblasts. The highest votes were in Lugansk (89%) and Donetsk (90%), which are frequently referred to collectively as the Donbas.    

The Duma acted immediately to acquire Crimea. Crimea was only about 15 percent Ukrainian and had never been more than 25 percent Ukrainian. However, in 1953, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev transferred Crimea from the Russian SSR to the Ukrainian SSR for political and administrative reasons despite Crimean desires to stay part of the Russian SSR. Crimea had long been an important naval and military asset commanding the Black Sea to the USSR and later since 1991 to the Russian Federation. The Crimean Parliament authorized a referendum on March 16, 2014, in which a high turnout (81%) voted 97 percent to secede from Ukraine and reintegrate with Russia. The Ukrainian Army resistance in Crimea collapsed on March 19. Most of its predominantly Crimean troops immediately defected to the Russians. Only three people were killed, and those inadvertent deaths were civilians.  

The Russian Duma initially wanted Donetsk and Lugansk to stay within Ukraine, because of their potential political influence in keeping Ukraine friendly to Russian economic and geopolitical issues, but eventually relented because of the terrible suffering endured by their fellow Russian ethnic and Orthodox Christian brothers in the Donbas and elsewhere in Ukraine.  

One reason for such anti-Ukrainian sentiment in eastern and southern Ukraine is that the new government in Kyiv immediately tried to suppress Russian language, culture, and loyalty to Ukrainian Orthodox churches connected to the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Orthodox Church. Russian-speakers were being made second class citizens subject to discrimination and the brutality of anti-Russian mobs. Referendums in Lugansk and Donetsk approved secession by 96 and 89 percent, respectively. On April 27, both Donetsk and Lugansk declared themselves independent republics. On May 2, at least 42 pro-Russian activists were beaten, shot, or burned to death in Odessa by pro-coup revolutionaries.

Chocolate billionaire oligarch Petro Poroshenko was elected in the remainder of Ukraine on May 25 with 55 percent of the vote. He continued the anti-Russian and ethnic cleansing policies of his strongest and most fanatical anti-Russian backers, including the Svoboda Party, the Right Sector militia, and the so-called Azov Battalion associated with Ukrainian independence hero, Stefan Bandura, alleged to have murdered many thousands of Russians and Jews as an ally of Nazi Germany. Conflict between the Ukrainian Army and the militias of the Donetsk (DPR) and Lugansk (LPR) began to rage.

By the summer, full-scale war had broken out in the two Donbas republics. On September 4, 2014, Ukraine, Russia, France, Germany, and the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) met in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, and agreed on a cease-fire and to find a way of ending the conflict. The cease-fire was not lasting, but negotiations continued, including representatives of the DPR and LPR. This resulted in the Minsk II agreement on February 12, 2015, which called for a cease-fire, a buffer zone free of heavy weapons, POW exchanges, Ukrainian control of international borders, and a political way forward. The political action required the Ukrainian parliament to arrange legitimate internationally monitored referenda and elections in the DPR and LPR within 30 days,  and new laws establishing autonomous status for the DPR and LPR, including equal status for Russian culture and language and equal civil rights and religious freedoms for all. At least 40 percent of Ukrainians have either Russian or mixed Russian-Ukrainian ethnic and cultural backgrounds. 

The cease-fire was relatively successful. Of the 14,000 killed in the war. Most of those killed were killed before Minsk II. However, Ukraine’s government failed to implement any of the agreed upon political actions. According to writer, Medea Benjamin, in her newly released book, War in Ukraine: Making Sense of a Senseless Conflict, while the United States claimed to support Minsk II, it consistently acted as a spoiler preventing implementation of the political actions. It seems to Benjamin and many others that the U.S. was actually encouraging Ukraine to take back Crimea and the Donbas by military action.  In April 2015, 300 U.S, 200 Canadian, and 75 British military trainers arrived in Lviv oblast to sharpen the combat fighting-capabilities of the Ukrainian Army. Russia warned that this could “seriously destabilize the situation in Ukraine.” Indeed, between April 2015 and February 2022, the Ukrainian Army was built into the third strongest army in Europe, second only to Russia and Turkey. In 2018, the DPR and LPR took things in their own hands and conducted referendums and elections, but they were not recognized by the major European powers.

With the help of now President Joe Biden’s influence in September 2018, the Poroshenko government was also successful in manipulating a split in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and began efforts to crush those churches that are tied to the Moscow Patriarchate. These corrupt policies are currently approaching totalitarian levels under President Volodymyr Zelensky, who has just been named Time Magazine’s Man of the Year.

On February 18, 2022, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky formally rebuked the signed Minsk II agreements, and according to Canadian reporter, Eva Bartlett, Ukrainian shelling of civilian business and residential areas in downtown Donetsk was noticeably increased. Ukrainian Army artillery has never shown any reservations about shelling civilian areas in Donbas. Just as she was leaving her hotel, a Ukrainian artillery shell hit and exploded in the street, killing several civilians. She reported about her horror in seeing the mutilated bodies. On February 24, Vladimir Putin ran out of patience and trust and began the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Was he unprovoked?

On December 1, the German magazine, Der Spiegel, published an interview article by Alexander Osang on Angela Merkel’s 16 years as German Chancellor, entitled “A Year with Ex-Chancellor Angela Merkel.  In this article, Merkel said she did not favor welcoming Ukraine and Georgia at the 2008 Bucharest NATO summit. She then suddenly digressed about a Netflix film she had viewed called: Munich: The Edge of War, which was about British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s negotiation with Hitler over Czechoslovakia in 1938.  She appreciated it because it showed Chamberlain as “a strategist who gave his country the buffer it needed to prepare for the German attack.” Then turning to the 2015 Minsk talks on Ukraine, she said she “was able to buy the time Ukraine needed to better fend off the Russian attack,” which [Ukraine] she says, “is now a strong, well-fortified country.”  She then followed by saying she is certain  that “it would have been overrun by Putin’s troops.” 

What former German Chancellor Angela Merkel  has indirectly confessed is that the major NATO powers, especially Germany and France, who helped negotiate and signed the Minsk II agreement deceived the Russians by signing an agreement they had no intention of fulfilling in order to have time to build up the Ukrainian Army for an eventual successful invasion of the Donbas republics and Crimea.  

In the December 7 edition of the German publication Die Zeit Online, Merkel revealed directly that the Minsk Accords were signed “to give Ukraine time” to strengthen itself.

“The Minsk agreement was an attempt to give time to Ukraine. It also used this time to become stronger as can be seen today, The Ukraine of 2014-2015 is not the modern Ukraine.”

She said, “it was clear to everyone” [the major NATO powers] that the conflict was put on hold and the conflicts were not yet settled. “Yet this was what gave Ukraine invaluable time.” 

Thus the Minsk II Accords had been agreed to and signed, but the Germans and French, with the British and Americans looking over their shoulders in agreement, had no intention of ever implementing them.

Merkel expressed to Die Zeit that the Ukraine War would be settled by negotiations. But what kind of negotiations can you have, when the Russians and Russian-speakers in Ukraine cannot trust Ukraine and their Western allies to negotiate in good faith or make a genuine attempt to live up to negotiated promises?

During the Vietnam War, the Johnson Administration was eager to negotiate a peace, but the North Vietnamese never had any intention of keeping any promise that stood in their way for long. The North Vietnamese principally used negotiations to repair damage, build up their strength, and strike harder as opportunities for successful aggression improved.

Unless the United States and its Western Allies want to relinquish their credibility, honor, and peace itself, they had best not practice such deception as diplomacy. Yet this appears to be what has been done with the Betrayal of Minsk II.

Fox News’ Tucker Carlson lamented on his December 7 evening show that it is becoming clear that the Ukraine War is not about saving democracy or saving Ukraine. It is about using Ukraine, with little regard to whatever suffering it causes the Ukrainian people, to bring down Vladimir Putin and dismantle Russia as a major economic and geopolitical power.

Perhaps we should realign our moral compass to more practical and more noble purposes. Perhaps we should try to free ourselves from our own increasingly far-fetched war propaganda and start testing for reality. Despite decades of intense demonizing propaganda, the Russian Federation is not the Soviet Union, and Putin is not Hitler.

Who are we? I wish my country could be right on everything, but right is a very far stretch in the growing clarity of the Obama and Biden regimes’ corruption and depravity. The consequences of such intellectual and moral blight could ruin much of Europe and substantially reduce American economic and foreign policy influence in the future. We are also flirting with the unspeakable horrors of advanced war technologies. 

“There is many a boy here today who looks on war as all glory, but boys, it is all hell.”—General William T. Sherman