Ukraine’s leader Volodymyr Zelensky admitted to a major German newspaper that he refused to implement the Minsk peace deal with Russia.
The Minsk accords were two agreements, negotiated in Belarus; signed by Ukraine, Russia, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE); and overseen by Germany and France, in the so-called Normandy Format.
The accords aimed to stop the conflict in Ukraine that broke out following a violent US-backed coup in 2014, which set off a civil war between Kiev’s pro-Western, post-coup government and pro-Russian separatists in the east.
The first deal, known as Minsk I, was reached in 2014, but failed. This led to Minsk II in 2015. This agreement was ostensibly more stable, but Ukraine’s previous President Petro Poroshenko never truly implemented it.
When Zelensky ran for president, he had differentiated himself from Poroshenko by pledging to “reboot” peace negotiations with the Russian-speaking separatists in the east and “continue in the direction of the Minsk talks and head towards concluding a ceasefire”.
But soon after coming to power in 2019, Zelensky did a 180.
In an interview with the German daily Der Spiegel, published on February 9, 2023, Zelensky made it clear that he intentionally chose to sabotage Minsk.
The Ukrainian leader complained that the Minsk agreements were an unacceptable “concession”.
Zelensky recalled telling French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel that “we cannot implement it”.