At 9:05 pm Vladimir Putin officially recognized Luhansk and Donezk – both occupied by paramilitary pro-Russian forces since 2014. Whatever the governments in France and Germany hoped to achieve through diplomacy has utterly failed. So, the questions arises:
What shall be done?
Before we move on to the question how to deal with Vladimir Putin and his government, here the Minsk II agreement of the 12th February, 2015.
|1. Immediate and comprehensive ceasefire in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine and its strict implementation as of 15 February 2015, 12am local time.|
2. Withdrawal of all heavy weapons by both sides by equal distances in order to create a security zone of at least 50 km wide from each other for the artillery systems of caliber of 100 and more, a security zone of 70 km wide for MLRS and 140 km wide for MLRS „Tornado-S“, Uragan, Smerch and Tactical Missile Systems (Tochka, Tochka U):
– for the Ukrainian troops: from the de facto line of contact;
– for the armed formations from certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of
Ukraine: from the line of contact according to the Minsk Memorandum of Sept. 19th, 2014;
The withdrawal of the heavy weapons as specified above is to start on day 2 of the ceasefire at the latest and be completed within 14 days.
The process shall be facilitated by the OSCE and supported by the Trilateral Contact Group.
3. Ensure effective monitoring and verification of the ceasefire regime and the withdrawal of heavy weapons by the OSCE from day 1 of the withdrawal, using all technical equipment necessary, including satellites, drones, radar equipment, etc.
4. Launch a dialogue, on day 1 of the withdrawal, on modalities of local elections in accordance with Ukrainian legislation and the Law of Ukraine „On interim local self-government order in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions“ as well as on the future regime of these areas based on this law.
Adopt promptly, by no later than 30 days after the date of signing of this document a Resolution of the Parliament of Ukraine specifying the area enjoying a special regime, under the Law of Ukraine „On interim self-government order in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions“, based on the line of the Minsk Memorandum of September 19, 2014.
5. Ensure pardon and amnesty by enacting the law prohibiting the prosecution and punishment of persons in connection with the events that took place in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine.
6. Ensure release and exchange of all hostages and unlawfully detained persons, based on the principle „all for all“. This process is to be finished on the day 5 after the withdrawal at the latest.
7. Ensure safe access, delivery, storage, and distribution of humanitarian assistance to those in need, on the basis of an international mechanism.
8. Definition of modalities of full resumption of socioeconomic ties, including social transfers such as pension payments and other payments (incomes and revenues, timely payments of all utility bills, reinstating taxation within the legal framework of Ukraine). To this end, Ukraine shall reinstate control of the segment of its banking system in the conflict-affected areas and possibly an international mechanism to facilitate such transfers shall be established.
9. Reinstatement of full control of the state border by the government of Ukraine throughout the conflict area, starting on day 1 after the local elections and ending after the comprehensive political settlement (local elections in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions on the basis of the Law of Ukraine and constitutional reform) to be finalized by the end of 2015, provided that paragraph 11 has been implemented in consultation with and upon agreement by representatives of certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the framework of the Trilateral Contact Group.
10. Withdrawal of all foreign armed formations, military equipment, as well as mercenaries from the territory of Ukraine under monitoring of the OSCE. Disarmament of all illegal groups.
11. Carrying out constitutional reform in Ukraine with a new constitution entering into force by the end of 2015 providing for decentralization as a key element (including a reference to the specificities of certain areas in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, agreed with the representatives of these areas), as well as adopting permanent legislation on the special status of certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in line with measures as set out in the footnote until the end of 2015. [Note]
12. Based on the Law of Ukraine „On interim local self-government order in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions“, questions related to local elections will be discussed and agreed upon with representatives of certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the framework of the Trilateral Contact Group. Elections will be held in accordance with relevant OSCE standards and monitored by OSCE/ODIHR.
13. Intensify the work of the Trilateral Contact Group including through the establishment of working groups on the implementation of relevant aspects of the Minsk agreements. They will reflect the composition of the Trilateral Contact Group.
Source: Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung (bpb)
What shall be done?
Before Putin officially recognized it, the Russian Duma requested for Luhansk and Donezk to be recognized as independent regions. A few days later, on the 21st February on
9:05 pm, it was reported by the AFP that Vladimir Putin sided with the Duma – thus he effectively terminated the Minsk II agreement.
The diplomatic route has therefore failed – this doesn’t mean war is to be declared; sanctions must now be the weapon of choice as well as supporting Ukraine even stronger.
By stronger I mean with military equipment, offensive and defensive weapons likewise.
It has already been done, but now it is important that Germany and France do it as well.
Moreover, Europe must now more than ever follow the path of energy independence from Russia. Unlike some German politicians like to think – in what one can describe almost as delusional thinking -, Nordstream 2 isn’t a purely commercial project. Gazprom is under the influence of Putin’s regime and can easily be used for blackmailing.
Instead of further relying on fossil fuels and an authoritarian regime, Germany and the rest of Europe need to invest in renewable energies and nuclear energy (where necessary).
Regarding the sanctions of Russia:
- Freeze the assets of the oligarchs
- Put those oligarchs under house arrest who live elsewhere in Europe
- Stop trade with Russia (essential products such as food and medicine excluded!)
- Deny Russian ships entry to Europe’s ports (limitations: see essential products)
- Deny Russia Today to operate in EU-member countries
These are just some possible sanctions, the main target should be the oligarchs in Putin’s regime who came into existence under Boris Yeltsin and benefit most from the authoritarian regime. And as already mentioned in the brackets: neither food nor medicine or any other essential product which is vital for the survival of the Russian people are to be reduced/stopped. That’d not only be inhumane, but also unneccessarily cruel and unjust.
The four main exports of Russia are:
- Crude Petroleum ($123 billion)
- Refined Petroleum ($66.2 billion)
- Petroleum Gas ($26.3 billion)
- Coal Briquettes ($17.6 billion)
It mainly exports – in Europe – to the Netherlands ($41.7 billion), Germany ($18.9 billion) and Italy (16.7$ billion). Consequently, it is a task of theirs too to implement sanctions.
Putin and the oligarchs must always be the main target of the sanctions. For the ordinary Russian there’s nothing to gain from this geopolitical struggle, the inequalities and societal problems remain. It’s an attempt of the regime to distract from the domestic problems, carried out by a few powerful individuals at the top to maintain their influence and wealth created through decades of corruption.
Just recently the organization Memorial was banned by Russian courts. For those who don’t know: „Memorial is Russia’s oldest and most prominent human rights organization, established to investigate the millions murdered under the direction of Russian dictator Josef Stalin and campaign for the rights of political prisoners and the politically oppressed. It was founded in the late 1980s by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Andrei Sakharov and other Soviet-era dissidents.“
On a final note
The aggression of the Russian government doesn’t justify any discriminatory treatment or physical and verbal violence against Russian immigrants. They are not responsible for the actions of Vladimir Putin and his clique in the Kreml.
This needs to be said because as the Covid-19 pandemic has already shown, hatred fueled by ignorance and bigotry led to attacks on Asian immigrants or natives with Asian descent.
Whether it is the rhetoric or an act of verbal or physical violence, both need to combatted.