by Alexandre Barray

On February 11, 2015, a summit was held for the second time in Minsk to bring a solution to the ongoing war in eastern Ukraine between pro-Russian separatists and government forces. Leaders from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Germany, and France negotiated a plan that would ensure the end of the conflict by the end of the 2015.

A ceasefire was even signed on September 1 and fighting between separatists and Kiev’s forces nearly stopped, bringing hope that both parties would go through the peace building process.

Ukrainian and Russian-backed rebels withdrew both their heavy and light weapons from the combat areas and a buffer zone was put in place. On October 2, François Hollande announced, after meeting in Paris with Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko, Russian president Vladimir Putin, and German chancellor Angela Merkel, that elections that were supposed to take place in October in eastern Ukraine were going to be delayed and likely reported to next year.

Following this announcement, rebels in eastern Ukraine decided to organise their own elections on October 18 and November 1 without the supervision of the Ukrainian government, clearly in violation of the peace agreement signed in February.  Even though fightings stopped, the crisis is far from being resolved as a deadly Russian rocket system was recently spotted in the rebel-held areas by international monitors from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

This come at odds with Russia’s officials stating that they do not have any interest in the conflict and are not taking part. This weapons being Russian-made and Russia being the only one using them disproves their statements. This comes as no surprise, Russia and separatists have often been accused by western countries of violating the Minks agreement.

After last Friday’s meeting in Paris, Putin expressed that a resolution of the conflict was still far ahead but that he is “confident that the crisis can be overcome”. His Ukrainian homologue, Petro Poroshenko, did not seem to be as confident  and expressed “cautious optimism”.

Over 8,000 people were killed and hundreds of thousands were displaced over the last 17 months due to the conflict.

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