Ask a hundred Americans and you’ll be lucky to find even one who’s ever heard of Minsk II. But ask those same Americans how the Ukraine war started, and you’ll likely get "Russian President Putin woke up one day and decided to re-establish the Soviet empire, starting with Ukraine."
That is because our government and its slavishly loyal media have created a false narrative for maximum propaganda to support pouring billions in weaponry into the Ukraine war zone, ensuring that death and destruction will proceed endlessly.
Minsk II was the 2015 agreement hammered out by Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany to end the civil war in Ukraine between the pro west, ultra nationalist government and the pro Russian Ukrainians in the eastern Donbas provinces of Lugansk and Donetsk.
Why a civil war in Ukraine? Historically, Ukraine was cobbled together first by the Russian Empire, then the Soviet Union over 4 centuries, containing disparate peoples. The main ones were the Western leaning, Ukrainian speaking people in the north and west, and the Russian speaking in the east and south.
Their relationship was always toxic, but under Soviet rule relative peace prevailed. Once freed from Soviet rule in 1999, the tension between the two disparate groups resurfaced. Fifteen years on the U.S. essentially blew up whatever chance for peaceful resolution by aiding a coup which violently removed Russian leaning President Yanukovych, replacing him with an ultra nationalist government under Petro Poroshenko.
Thus began the civil war in the Donbas that has killed over 14,000 Ukrainians in Kiev’s effort to subjugate and marginalize the hated Russian leaning Ukrainians. And leading the carnage for the past 3 years is current president Volodymyr Zelensky. Calling him the new Churchill doesn’t quite fit.
But Ukraine had an off ramp from civil war early on in the form of the Minsk and then the Minsk II agreements in 2014 and 2015. The latter called for autonomy for the breakaway provinces Donetsk and Lugansk, amnesty to the combatants and representation in the Ukraine government.
But goaded by the US and the ultra nationalists with the real power, both post coup presidents Poroshenko and Zelensky opted to continue the civil war to both retake the breakaway provinces and recapture the Crimea, seized by Russia after the 2014 coup threatened their naval base at Sebastopol in the Crimea.
In the months leading up to Russia’s criminal war, Ukraine, with the help of weaponry and training by Uncle Sam, dramatically increased its criminal shelling of the Donbas, even massing a hundred thousand troops for a possible invasion predicted for March.
Did that, and the threat of NATO’s encroachment in Ukraine up to Russia’s borders make Russia’s invasion legal or necessary for Russia’s national defense? Of course not. But expecting Russia would sit back and do nothing made their invasion virtually inevitable.
On February 24, that inevitability occurred, costing thousands of senseless deaths, putting the world in danger of worldwide recession, millions of poor worldwide facing starvation from food shortages and worst of all….nuclear war.
Millions of words have been spilled by our government and our media framing this war as the madman in the Kremlin and his dreams of a reconstituted Soviet empire. But they could do better with just two words that Ukraine and US refused to honor and implement: Minsk II.
Walt Zlotow became involved in antiwar activities upon entering University of Chicago in 1963. He is current president of the West Suburban Peace Coalition based in the Chicago western suburbs. He blogs daily on antiwar and other issues at www.heartlandprogressive.blogspot.com.