Germany is demanding that Russia guarantee Ukraine’s territorial integrity, but such a deal was previously signed, only to be “killed” by Berlin and Paris, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Monday.
“When [German Chancellor] Olaf Scholz demands that Russia should be compelled to sign an agreement granting Ukraine guarantees of territorial integrity and sovereignty, all his attempts are in vain. There was already such a deal – the Minsk agreements – which was killed by Berlin and Paris. They were shielding Kiev, which openly refused to comply,” he wrote in an op-ed for the Russian newspaper Izvestia.
Russia, Germany and France brokered the 2015 Minsk agreements between Ukraine and Donbass, which were designed to put an end to hostilities. But according to Lavrov, Berlin and Paris failed to ensure Kiev’s compliance.
The Russian foreign minister noted that former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko admitted the Minsk agreements meant nothing for Kiev, and Ukraine used them only to buy time.
“Our task was to stave off the threat... to buy time to restore economic growth and create powerful armed forces. This task was achieved. The Minsk Agreements have fulfilled their mission,” Poroshenko said in June.
Lavrov also mentioned that in December 2019, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had a chance to fulfil the Minsk agreements at the so-called Normandy format summit held in Paris. After negotiations with leaders of Russia, Germany and France, Zelensky pledged to resolve issues surrounding the special status of Donbass. “Of course, he did nothing, and Berlin and Paris were shielding him once again,” he noted.
The Minsk agreements included a series of measures designed to rein in hostilities in Donbass and reconcile the warring parties. The first steps were a ceasefire and an OSCE-monitored pullout of heavy weapons from the frontline, which were fulfilled to some degree.
Kiev was then supposed to grant a general amnesty to the rebels and extensive autonomy for the Donetsk and Lugansk regions. Ukrainian troops were supposed to take control of the rebel-held areas after Kiev granted them representation, and otherwise reintegrate them as part of Ukraine.
Poroshenko’s government refused to implement these portions of the deal, claiming it could not proceed unless it fully secured the border between the breakaway republics and Russia. He instead endorsed an economic blockade of the rebel regions, initiated by Ukrainian nationalist forces.
Zelensky’s presidency gave an initial boost to the peace process, but stalled after a series of protests by right-wing radicals, who threatened to depose the new Ukrainian president if he tried to deliver on his campaign promises.
Kiev’s failure to implement the roadmap, and the continued hostilities with rebels, were among the primary reasons cited by Russia when it attacked Ukraine in late February. Days before launching the offensive, Moscow recognized the breakaway Ukrainian republics as sovereign states, offering them security guarantees and demanding that Kiev pull back its troops. Zelensky refused to comply.