What's In Blue

Posted Tue 17 Feb 2015

Council to Vote on Ukraine Draft Resolution Today

The Security Council is to vote on a draft resolution at 3 p.m. today (17 February) endorsing the agreements reached on 12 February in Minsk. It was drafted and put in blue by Russia on Friday (13 February) following email and phone exchanges with Council members. Although there were a number of amendments from members, the draft that will be voted on this afternoon did not incorporate all of them—leaving it unclear whether it will garner a unanimous vote.

The draft resolution was prompted by the 12 February Minsk agreement which was reached after intense negotiations between leaders of Russia (Vladimir Putin), Ukraine (Petro Poroshenko), France (Francois Hollande) and Germany (Angela Merkel). It is primarily aimed at ending the fighting and at normalisation of the situation in eastern Ukrainian provinces of Donetsk and Lugansk. This agreement, which bears significant resemblance to earlier agreements reached in Minsk in September 2014, leaves numerous unresolved issues that will need to be worked out in further negotiations (e.g: ceasefire monitoring, control of the border, and precise separation lines between Ukrainian and rebel forces). Some of the main points of the agreement include:

• a ceasefire effective from 15 February;
• withdrawal of heavy weapons;
• prisoner exchanges and amnesty for those involved in fighting;
• further reforms aimed at decentralisation of Donetsk and Lugansk; and
• return to Ukraine of the control of the border with Russia (after certain conditions are met by the end of 2015).

The short draft resolution Russia circulated to Council members on 13 February essentially endorses the measures for the implementation of the Minsk Agreement and calls on all parties to fully implement all measures mandated by the Agreement. In addition, the draft expresses grave concern over tragic events and violence in eastern Ukraine and calls for resolving the situation in the east exclusively through peaceful means. Also, the draft makes reference to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine (but with no reference to Crimea).

Though there seems to be wide consensus among Council members that some action by the Council should be taken following the signing of the agreements, many members had additional elements they wanted included in the draft. Several Western members were adamant on including the reference to the Minsk agreements signed in September 2014. The interest in including this reference may have been prompted by the fact that many provisions mandated by the initial Minsk agreements are yet to be implemented. For example, the OSCE was not able to monitor the border, as stipulated in the September Minsk agreements, and the ceasefire was repeatedly violated. (These Minsk agreements are technically still valid and provided the base for the Minsk agreement signed in February.)

It seems that some members also wanted to include a reference to the independence and unity of Ukraine, in addition to sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, which was already included in the draft. Also it seems that both Malaysia and New Zealand suggested including a reference to resolution 2166 on the downing of Malaysian Airlines MH17 and the need to hold accountable those responsible for the act. Apparently the proposed amendments were supported by most members of the Council. In addition, it seems that most members of the Council requested additional time and further negotiation of the draft. There seems to be a general sense that this was an important resolution and that its adoption should not be rushed, especially without taking into account of the views of all Council members.

This morning Russia introduced a slightly revised draft resolution to Council members under “any other business” following the consultations on Iraq. The revised draft includes reference to resolution 2166, as suggested by Malaysia and New Zealand. Also, the new draft references the independence of Ukraine, in addition to its sovereignty and territorial integrity, in keeping with the desire of some members. Though some Western members of the Council originally insisted on reference to the first Minsk agreement signed in September, it seems that the new draft does not include this reference.

At press time, it is still unclear whether all Council members will be supportive of the draft resolution, most notably because there was no reference to the September Minsk agreement. In addition, though requested by most Council members, it seems that discussions on the draft initially put into blue were not held with the entire Council membership and only included the P5. Given the perception that the negotiations could have been more transparent and that more time should have been accorded to discussion of key issues, it is possible that concerns could be raised in explanations of vote.

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