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Minsk Protocol

Representatives of Ukraine, the Russian Federation, the Donetsk People's


Republic (DPR), and the Lugansk People's Republic (LPR) signed the Minsk Protocol, an
agreement to halt the war in the Donbass region of Ukraine, on 5 September 2014. It
was signed after extensive talks in Minsk, Belarus, under the auspices of the
Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). The agreement, which
followed multiple previous attempts to stop fighting in the Donbass, implemented an
immediate ceasefire. It failed to stop fighting in Donbass.
The details of the agreement, signed on 5 September, largely resembled Ukrainian
president Petro Poroshenko's 20 June "fifteen-point peace plan". In the two weeks after
the Minsk Protocol was signed, there were frequent violations of the ceasefire by both
parties to the conflict.
Successive attempts to resolve the ongoing war in the Donbass region of Ukraine had
seen no result. While the Minsk Protocol of 5 September 2014 did significantly reduce
fighting in the conflict zone for many months, minor skirmishes continued. At the start
of January 2015, the separatist forces of the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) and
Lugansk People's Republic (LPR) began a new offensive on Ukrainian-controlled areas,
resulting in the complete collapse of the Minsk Protocol ceasefire. After heavy fighting,
DPR forces captured the symbolically important Donetsk International Airport on 21
January, the last part of the city of Donetsk that had been under Ukrainian control.
Following this victory, separatist forces pressed their offensive on the important
railway and road junction of Debaltseve in late January. This renewed heavy fighting
caused significant concern in the international community. French president Franois
Hollande and German chancellor Angela Merkel put forth a new peace plan on 7
February. The Franco-German plan, drawn up after talks with Ukrainian president Petro
Poroshenko and Russian president Vladimir Putin, was seen as a revival of the Minsk
Protocol. President Hollande said that the plan was the "last chance" for resolution of
the conflict. The plan was put forth in response to American proposals to send
armaments to the Ukrainian government, something that Chancellor Merkel said
would only result in a worsening of the crisis.
A new package of measures meant to stop fighting in the Donbass region of Ukraine,
called "Minsk II", was agreed to on 12 February 2015 after the 16-hour talks went on
through the night, between the leaders of Ukraine - Petro Poroshenko, Russia Vladimir Putin, France - Francois Hollande, and Germany - Angela Merkel. The talks
that led to the deal, overseen by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in
Europe, were organised in response to the collapse of the Minsk Protocol from 5
September. The new package of measures was intended to revive this Protocol.
Though fighting generally subsided after the ceasefire came into effect at 0:00 EET on
15 February, skirmishes and shelling continued in several parts of the conflict zone.
Shelling and fighting at Debaltseve continued, as DPR leader Alexander Zakharchenko
said that the ceasefire did not apply to that area. In the south of Donetsk Oblast,
fighting between DPR forces and members of the Azov Battalion continued in villages
near Mariupol. By 16 February, Minsk II seemed on the verge of collapse. Separatists
continued a heavy assault on Debaltseve. Both sides said that they would not
withdraw heavy weaponry as specified by the agreement whilst fighting in Debaltseve
was ongoing. Reuters described the ceasefire as "stillborn" in Debaltseve. Ukrainian

forces were forced to retreat from Debaltseve on 18 February, leaving separatist


forces in control of the city.
In the week after the fall of Debaltseve to pro-Russian forces, fighting in the conflict
zone abated. DPR and LPR forces began to withdraw artillery from the front lines as
specified by Minsk II on 24 February, and Ukraine did so on 26 February. Ukraine
reported that it had suffered no causalities during 2426 February, something that had
not occurred since early January 2015.