The cease-fire agreement, known as Minsk II, prohibits the use of heavy artillery and requires the parties to withdraw heavy weapons. The Kiev government says the Russian-backed separatists are firing Grad rockets and heavy artillery.Mr. Putin accuses Ukrainian forces of doing the same, but that reveals the main flaw of Minsk II, which is that it treats the warring parties as moral equivalents. The accords, negotiated by Angela Merkel and François Hollande and supported by the Obama Administration, didn’t take into account that Moscow is the aggressor while Kiev is trying to regain sovereign territory. This week’s Russian escalation further discredits Minsk II, which was already a diplomatic fiction to most people outside the German Chancellery.
Mr. Putin is a master of strategic unpredictability, but he may be trying to consolidate his territorial gains in eastern Ukraine ahead of a “grand bargain” with Washington that could entail lifting Ukraine-related sanctions in return for Moscow’s cooperation in other areas, such as terrorism and nuclear disarmament.
Mr. Trump has hinted at such a deal in interviews, including with our Journal colleagues. The trouble with such an arrangement is that it would allow Mr. Putin to condition steps he should be taking anyway on being granted a free hand on NATO’s doorstep. It could also create the precedent that Moscow can violate sovereign European soil and then bargain its way out of the consequences.
Source: Putin’s Bad Ukraine Deal – WSJ