Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky personally refused to implement the 2015 Minsk agreements – a roadmap for peace in the east of the country, which was co-sponsored by Germany and France.
He made the admission during an interview with Der Spiegel published on Thursday as he continues his tour across Europe.
Zelensky said he viewed the agreements as a “concession” on Ukraine’s part, and never once actually sought to implement them. Instead, they were merely used to exchange prisoners with the two breakaway Donbass republics.
The president claimed he openly told that to then-German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, and Russian President Vladimir Putin back in 2019, with all of them acting “surprised.”
“But as for Minsk as a whole, I told Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel: ‘We cannot implement it like this,’” Zelensky stated. “I told [Putin] the same as the other two. They were surprised and said: ‘If we had known beforehand that you would change the meaning of our meeting, then there would have been problems even before the summit.’”
The Minsk agreements, originally brokered in 2014 and further expanded in 2015, envisioned a roadmap for reconciliation between Ukraine and the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The two regions rebelled against the country’s new authorities in the aftermath of the 2014 Maidan coup in Kiev, which ousted democratically elected President Viktor Yanukovich.
Ukraine’s failure to implement the agreement, which would have seen the breakaway territories reintegrated with the country but retain a special status, ultimately led to the ongoing conflict.