Discussion Group: Why the Minsk-2 Settlement of the Ukrainian Crisis Will Hold

While the Minsk-2 agreement is better than nothing and may lead to something eventually – after all, everything leads to something – it is at best the beginning of the beginning of the end.

There are two very serious flaws with the agreement.

The first is that there are several thousand Kiev troops surrounded in the “Debaltsevo Cauldron”; the agreement makes no provision for their evacuation or surrender. We are told that Poroshenko does not believe they are surrounded; but they are – there is plenty of film (for example) of the enclosure. There is no way that the Novorussian forces will allow them to stay there; they remember the Kiev forces at the Donetsk Airport continuously shelled Donetsk throughout the last “ceasefire”. They also remember Poroshenko boasting that the last “ceasefire” had been used to bring the Kiev forces back to 100%. And, today, fighting there continues and will continue until the Kiev forces take up the offer to depart without their weapons (surrenders are beginning, for example) or are destroyed.

The second problem are the neo-nazi “volunteer battalions”. They are not interested in compromise; to them a ceasefire is betrayal. They have many times threatened to return to Kiev and clean out the “defeatists” and “traitors” there. One day they will make that attempt.

In short, Poroshenko does not control his forces.

These two problems are enough to suggest that Minsk-2 will not produce a settlement or even a continuous ceasefire.

And the above ignores any meddling from Washington.

Thus, I cannot share the optimism.