The second Minsk Protocol, also referred to as Minsk 2, has raised more questions about its impact and intentions than it has provided answers and solutions. Many issues are still to be clarified and it is at least interesting to see that 4 so called World Leaders (although I personally don’t consider the President of Ukraine a World Leader) have not been able to draft a better document than this.
In my judgment, this adds up to a strong statement about the different interests and the lack of willingness to develop a comprehensive solution in the interest of the PEOPLE suffering under this conflict. The second Minsk Protocol is even weaker than the first Protocol was and leaves all those items which led to the conflict fully open. In the coming days and weeks, I will post my thoughts based on my own opinion and the many discussions I am having these days on this topic.
The most draconic article from this Protocol in my view is section 5 which describes the pardon and amnesty which is to be implemented:
5 Provide pardon and amnesty by way of enacting a law that forbids persecution and punishment of persons in relation to events that took place in particular districts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts of Ukraine.
The wording of this section is crucial to attempt to understand its intention and implications. As I wrote earlier, the wording itself leaves no other conclusion then to see it as a general pardon and amnesty. This itself is a conflict with the Geneva Convention and its Protocols, United Nations Resolutions and the criminal investigation in to the downing of Flight MH17 and killing its passengers and crew.
There is yet another trap in the wording of this section. The wording “by enacting a law that forbids persecution and punishment” raises questions which in my opinion should have been addressed directly in the protocol to give it even the slightest chance of success. If not the leaders negotiating this Protocol failed, at least their staff and advisers have failed completely!
The first question that should have handled by the Protocol is:
Who will enact this law and with which authority?
In case the intention is that Ukraine is expected to install this law, there will be significant challenges. For starters, Ukraine will need to overrule its own Constitution in which such acts are prohibited which are to pardoned under that specific law.
Secondly, a pardon and amnesty is installed for acts which are considered to be illegal and prosecuted in case the pardon and amnesty would not be installed. Ukraine has passed laws and decrees to legalize their so called “ATO” against its own population in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. To have these activities, in which serious and horrifying crimes against the population of these oblasts have been committed, covered by this pardon and amnesty, Ukraine would have to first admit that these actions were illegal and with that change their entire transcript of “fighting a foreign aggressor”.
Even if ” fighting a foreign aggressor” would apply, the obligations of the Geneva Convention and its Protocols still apply, especially those that describe the obligation to protect civilians and noncombatants and the prohibition of attacking those. Not to mention the usage of prohibited weapons and ammunition against civilians and civilian objects, like cluster bombs and fragmentation shells. Is Ukraine going to admits these crimes to have them covered by the pardon and amnesty? Very unlikely!
The other side has also committed crimes like using civilian objects to launch assaults and hiding military equipment in populated areas and thus exposing the civilian population against attacks by Ukrainian Armed Forces. Ukraine in its narrative of being the victim of this conflict, have used these acts as explanation and attempt to legalize their attacks on populated civilian areas.
Then there is the question of the reach of this pardon and amnesty. Will it apply to the participants of the conflict, or will it also cover those who have provoked this conflict, sponsored and promoted the most destructive conflict since World War II on this continent? In short, is the pardon and amnesty for those following orders or will it include those giving the orders?
Last but not least, will this pardon and amnesty apply to those in the territory of Ukraine or does it reach beyond? For example, the Ukrainian pilot prosecuted by the Russian Federation. And what about those foreign volunteers and mercenaries fighting at both sides? It is very unlikely that Ukraine can install a pardon and amnesty for these foreigners which will apply in their home countries in case they should return there.
All very weak and very unlikely to be implemented in a way that it contributes to solving the violent conflict which has already caused the violent death of close to 6.000 people and forced millions to leave the little they have behind and flee their homes. Those who were not able to flee have lost not only their possessions but first and foremost their birthright: live and prosper in peace, protected by their government.
Beyond the conflict in Ukraine itself, this article is an insult to the families and friends who have lost their loved ones on Flight MH17. The least thing to be expected from 3 Presidents and a Bundeskanslerin is to explicitly exclude the killing of 296 civilians on Flight MH17 in this draconic document which finds its height or low in draconic disrespect in article 5!
This Protocol will fail like its predecessor did for the same reason all other attempts failed: the other lack of willingness to solve this conflict in a comprehensive manner in the interest of the PEOPLE suffering from this conflict! It turns out once again that they are nothing but bargaining points to achieve political agendas and objectives. And that is the real crime against humanity!