After 16 hours of talks in the Belarusian capital Minsk the leaders of Germany, France, Ukraine and Russia agreed to a ceasefire. This meeting took place in two locations, Minsk and Russia, because Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko refused to meet rebel leaders.

Here is a link to the Full Text of the Ceasefire.

The accord sets boundaries, grants amnesty and pardons, and requires release of prisoners on both sides.

Points 10-12 are where it gets interesting.

In a move that mainly targets Russia but also affects mercenaries fighting on the Ukrainian side, point 10 of the accord calls for “Withdrawal of all foreign armed formations, military equipment, as well as mercenaries from the territory of Ukraine under monitoring of the OSCE. Disarmament of all illegal groups.

Point 11 calls for “Carrying out constitutional reform in Ukraine with a new constitution entering into force by the end of 2015 providing for decentralization as a key element (including a reference to the specificities of certain areas in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, agreed with the representatives of these areas), as well as adopting permanent legislation on the special status of certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in line with measures as set out in the footnote until the end of 2015.

Point 12 says “Based on the Law of Ukraine ‘On interim local self-government order in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions’, questions related to local elections will be discussed and agreed upon with representatives of certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the framework of the Trilateral Contact Group. Elections will be held in accordance with relevant OSCE standards and monitored by OSCE/ODIHR.

I do not see the footnote mentioned in point 11.

Description of the Negotiations

In intense negotiations Chancellor Merkel was the main go-between with Putin.

In this lies hope,” tweeted Ms Merkel’s spokeperson, who was the driving force behind negotiations that Mr Hollande had described as a “last chance” to halt the spiralling violence in a conflict that has so far killed more than 5,300.

“It was not easy, and de facto all sorts of unacceptable conditions were put forth to us,” Mr Poroshenko said. “But we did not go along with ultimatums.”

Mr Poroshenko said Ukraine rejected a push to grant separatist regions autonomy, contending that agreements signed on Thursday envision full reintegration though with greater regional governing authority, after local elections his year.

Mr Putin listed plans for a political settlement that would deal with border and humanitarian issues. But he did not clarify whether or how the sides had resolved their disagreements over Kiev’s demands that it regain control over its border with Russia — one of the thorniest issues in the talks.

Mr Putin said he and Mr Poroshenko were both consulting their military experts to understand and resolve the situation in Debaltseve, the eastern Ukrainian town that has become the scene of the heaviest fighting in recent days, with rebels claiming to have encircled thousands of Ukrainian troops there.

The closed-door talks in Minsk were described in a Facebook posting by Valeriy Chaly, deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential administration, as a “battle of nerves”.

Outside the main Minsk talks, representatives of the eastern Ukraine separatists were meeting representatives from Kiev, Moscow and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe in a separate building. The dual track negotiation was necessary because Mr Poroshenko refused to talk directly with the separatists.

Will This Hold?

I don’t know. This sounds like the limited autonomy arrangement in the last failed Minsk accord. But what’s in the footnote? Does this mean a limited Federation without using those words? Is everyone tired enough of war to make this stick?

Mike “Mish” Shedlock