1. Immediate and total ceasefire in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions from February 15.
This did not happen.
The most dramatic evidence of this is the dramatic loss of Debaltseve. The Ukrainians were pummeled and were forced to withdraw. In fact, it was a rout. This should not be a surprise: Putin argued in Minsk that Debaltseve should be exempt from the ceasefire. On paper, Putin lost that argument.
In practice, not so much. Debaltseve sits on the road and rail junction between the rebel territories in Lugansk and Donetsk. Without it, the rebels are logistically divided. Additionally, Debaltseve is a knife pointed at both halves of “Novorossiya” from which the Ukrainians could, if rearmed and reorganized, launch an offensive. The rebels could not leave the town in Ukrainian hands.
Attacking Debaltseve, however, ran the risk that it could become the next battle of Donetsk airport. As folks who have been following the conflict know, the Ukrainians held the airport until very recently. It took the rebels four months to dislodge them. In fact, the fighting grew so fierce that the a young rebel soldier said in an interview that the only way the Ukrainians could hold out for so long is because they were “cyborgs like Schwarzenegger.” The “cyborg” monicker stuck and the Ukrainian defenders became national heroes. The rebel victory ultimately turned pyrrhic: by the time the Ukrainians withdrew there was nothing left to defend.
In short, the last thing the rebels and the Russians wanted was another fight which would boost enemy morale, turn into a bleeding humiliating sore, and end with the complete destruction of the local infrastructure.
The Russians appear to have intervened directly in order to avoid such a debacle. There is credible evidence large formations of the Russian army participated: the 136th Motor Rifle Brigade from the North Caucasus was identified based on vehicle markings. (In general, the source of the second link should be approached with some caution.) In addition, the Russian Spetznaz appear to have made little effort to hide. Weapons not operated by the Ukrainians (frex, SA-22s) continue to appear in rebel territory. Moreover, Russian opsec is pretty lax: Russian soldiers’ posts from eastern Ukraine continue to show up on social media.
Fighting continues outside of Donetsk and, especially, Mariupol.
2. Withdrawal of all heavy weapons to create a buffer zone at least 50 kilometers (30 miles) for artillery with a caliber of 100 mm or more, 70 kilometers for multiple rocket launch systems, or 140 kilometers for Tornado multiple rocket launch systems and others. The withdrawal of heavy weapons must begin on the second day after the ceasefire, i.e. February 17, and take no more than 14 days.
This also did not happen.
3. The OSCE will check the ceasefire and heavy weaponry withdrawal from day one, and can use satellites and drones.
The Ukrainians have impeded the OSCE at least once and the rebels have done so repeatedly.
4. On the first day after withdrawal of heavy weapons, dialogue must start on holding local elections in Lugansk and Donetsk as well as the future “regime” in the rebel-held areas, based on Ukrainian legislation giving them temporary self-rule. Ukraine’s parliament must within 30 days pass a decree defining the geographical area that will have self-rule, based on the September agreement. The separatist regions have the right to decide which language they use.
Well. We were skeptical, but now the leader of the DNR has stated the no pro-Ukrainian parties will be allowed to take part.
5. A law must enter force ensuring pardons and amnesty for those involved in the conflict in Donetsk and Lugansk, who will have immunity from prosecution and punishment.
No word yet. Pretty sure this is DOA.
6. Release and exchange all hostages and illegally detained prisoners on an “all-for-all” basis, starting five days after withdrawal of heavy weapons.
Exchanges in or near Debaltseve have taken place. Note: the Russians hold an Ukrainian soldier (Nadya Savchenko), captured earlier in the war. She is accused of having killed two Russian journalists and is currently on trial. The Russians have made it plain that she is not covered by the ceasefire and will not be returned.
7. Ensure distribution and access to humanitarian aid.
More Donbas factories have been stripped down and moved east. After the Soviet Union broke up, most Russian weapon system continued to require components built in Ukraine. Torpedoes, the gas turbine engines for Russia’s new frigates, the Dnepr rocket, etcetera. Thus the Russians have sent in aid in very large but lightly loaded convoys which return with the contents of the Donbas factories.
Points 8 through 13 of the Minsk II plan have made no progress, so we will not dwell on them.
The only possible way this can be spun as a victory for Europe is if the point of the exercise was to demonstrate Russia was never going to give peace a chance, even when Russia gets almost all of its public demands. We shall see. The test will be whether European governments, particularly Germany’s, reverse their stand against arming the Ukrainian forces.