A declaration of war by other means – Minsk IIFebruary 13, 2015
That website chosen specifically as 11 months from now, when all listed points are scheduled to have been completed, Kremlin interpretation of what appears in these links will matter far more than Ukrainian or European interpretations, for neither will be able to bring the process to a close themselves. (That written on the assumption that the Europeans continue to allow the Kremlin to keep the incentive, and there’s no reason to think they won’t. Reactionary, untimely and disproportionately meek have been the watchwords of the European response throughout – that will not change.)
Does anybody really think that the Europeans have the spine to force the Kremlin to hand the Ukrainian border back to the Ukrainians at the end of the Minsk II process? Thought not.
At worst, the ceasefire on Sunday will simply not take effect and the war in the east will continue. Nobody would be surprised if this were the case.
But perhaps the ceasefire will take hold – strange things in Moscow, seemingly unconnected, but connected, are occurring. Konstantine Malofeyev, swivel-eyed nationalist and ultra-conservative Orthodox believer has had his apartment in Moscow searched yesterday. He is the multi-billionaire responsible for a large part of the “separatist” funding.
Prima facie it looks like another attempt to nail him for a scam that defrauded VTB Bank back in 2007, but in a nation that runs by way of “rule by law”, there is no way this would happen to somebody like him without the required Kremlin sanctioning. Thus this occurrence may be interpreted by some as a signal to him to stop the funding in eastern Ukraine. Certainly if his continued funding was required, then this incident would probably not have happened – now anyway. Alternatively his funding of the swivel-eyed far right and ultra-Orthodox within Russia may have exceeded what the Kremlin considers “safe”. Either way, a message about something is being sent to Mr Malofeyev under the guise of an allegation from some 8 years ago.
Perhaps the threat of US defensive weaponry being sent to Ukraine altered Kremlin calculations about how it intends to fight its war – but the war will continue to be fought.
If a ceasefire arrives, no matter how long it may last, Ukraine would be wise to make the most of that time and deal with the most difficult reforms first, choose defensible lines, and arm itself as well as it can on the presumption the ceasefire will fail.
However, the word “ceasefire” (and/or the manifestation of a ceasefire) is not synonymous with “peace”. Whether a lasting ceasefire comes, or not, the Minsk II document can be considered as nothing more than a declaration of war – by methods other than tanks and artillery. The Kremlin goal remains the political control of Ukraine – or alternatively insuring Ukraine fails as a State.
Thus the Minsk II Agreement is a declaration of war, and not simply with Ukraine.
For the EU, this declaration of war by other means will manifest very quickly. It should brace itself for an aggressive, overt and covert assault on the EU DCFTA agreement with Ukraine, by the Kremlin.
The Kremlin will now be swift to try and unpick these economy transforming and European integrating agreements prior to it coming into force on 1st January 2016. European political defeat lies in allowing an external 3rd party veto or amendment to a ratified bilateral agreement. Any such precedent would be a disaster for the EU.
Proxy assaults on the 3rd Energy Package can be expected too.
The Minsk II Agreement is not a “peace agreement”, it may not even turn out to be a “ceasefire agreement” – but it is a declaration of war by other means.