Marking 10 years of the Russo-Ukraine War

Apr 22, 2024
Ukraine map deleted erased by Russian eraser

On February 28, 2022, four days after Russia had attacked into Ukraine, Moscow and Kiev began peace talks.

The Russian attack had aimed to force Kiev to promise neutrality – i.e. not to join NATO. It also aimed to put an end to eight years of neo-NAZI and other militant bombing of the two Russian-speaking provinces of Donetsk and Lugansk, promised autonomy under the Minsk Accords of 2014-5 following the US and militant inspired Maidan uprising in 2014.

On April 15 that year that Russia-Ukraine peace agreement was signed. In addition to the promise of neutrality, the agreement would also have required Kiev to give up its claim to Crimea in exchange for a Russian troop withdrawal.

Putin’s Punishing Peace deal was how the agreement was dubbed by the Wall Street Journal which had broken the story of the signing.

In retrospect that agreement was far from punishing. Ukraine’s claim to Crimea was weak; historically it had long been Russian, but had been gifted to Ukraine for some obscure reason by Khrushchev in 1954 only to be taken back by Moscow in 2014 following the Maidan uprising.

In the sixties there were no Ukrainian speakers in Crimea that we Australian embassy visitors from Moscow were aware of. On another visit, after some 60 years of Ukrainian occupation, it was still Russian speaking, with only a few road signs in Ukrainian.

I was told by the editor of the main newspaper there that the circulation of the Ukrainian edition had never been much more than one tenth that of the Russian edition.

So apart from giving up the Crimea fantasy, the only other ‘punishments’ demanded by the 2014 peace agreement were the neutrality promise and a muzzle on the neo-Nazis and other militants attacking into the two autonomous provinces. In exchange Ukraine would be completely free and the brief Russian attack would be ended.

Hardly punishing, except in the eye of a Wall Street Journal hawk keen to see the peace agreement ditched. And ditched it was, by Boris Johnson on behalf of the Western powers, the US in particular.

In so doing they have condemned Ukraine to two years of savage killing and destruction. And now Moscow not only claims the formerly Ukrainian and autonomous Donetsk and Luhansk provinces as its own property, but it has included the adjoining provinces of Kherson and Zaporozhia was well.

Maybe that original peace agreement was not so punishing after all.

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