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Russian foreign minister Lavrov claims West “sabotaged” Minsk agreements to prepare for war against Russia – here’s why he’s wrong

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At a joint press conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry on January 31, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov claimed that the West had used the Minsk agreements to prepare for war against Russia:

“... About those long years of sabotage of the Minsk agreements, which preceded the current situation and which were actively used by the Ukrainian regime and Western countries, which fed this regime in order to prepare a war against Russia, as the signatories of the Minsk agreements – former Ukrainian President Poroshenko, French and German leaders Mrs. Merkel and Mr. Hollande – have now openly admitted.”

Here's what the signatories to the Minsk agreements actually said. Angela Merkel said the following in an interview with German newspaper Die Zeit on December 7:

“The 2014 Minsk agreements were an attempt to give time to Ukraine. It also used that time to become stronger, as you can see today. Ukraine in 2014/15 is not Ukraine today. And I very much doubt that NATO countries could have then done as much as they are doing now to help Ukraine.”

In a December 28 interview with The Kyiv Independent, former French president François Hollande said that Ukraine's successful resistance to Russian aggression in 2022 was partly the result of his own diplomatic efforts in 2014-15:

“He was advancing (in Donbas) through the use of the pro-Russian separatists and not directly through his own army, even though there was clear evidence that Russians were in the Donbas and that Russian weapons were being distributed to the separatists.

However, the fear of international isolation meant that Putin was not looking for a definitive solution to the war but rather to secure what he had already obtained by force. [...]

Thus, that night, Putin's objective was to postpone the ceasefire as late as possible to obtain the greatest possible territorial gains. He also wanted more «autonomy» for the (so-called) Russian-speaking regions, which in his mind, he could one day prepare for annexation. [...]

The Minsk agreements stopped the Russian offensive for a while. What was very important was to know how the West would use this respite to prevent any further Russian attempts. [...]

So Putin thought that time had worked in his favor and that he could cross the threshold by further invading Ukraine. Hence the aggression he committed. [...]

Since 2014, Ukraine has strengthened its military posture. Indeed, the Ukrainian army was completely different from that of 2014. It was better trained and equipped. It is the merit of the Minsk agreements to have given the Ukrainian army this opportunity. In addition, Europe did not divide and immediately supported Ukraine, and the United States provided considerable aid.

Thus, the time that Putin thought was an asset for him turned out to be, in fact, an opportunity for the Ukrainians. The best example of this is clearly seen on the battlefield. His army is much less impressive than he had imagined, and the Ukrainian resistance much more resounding than he had estimated. [...]

Putin's objective in 2015 was to push back the front line as far as possible.

Mariupol was already in his sights. The Minsk agreements and the resulting ceasefire didn't allow the area controlled by separatists to expand. This is one of its merits.”

Finally, Petro Poroshenko, in the BBC documentary “Putin vs. the West”, argued:

“Do you know what the success of the Minsk agreements is, even though Russia has not implemented any of their points? This document gave Ukraine eight years to build an army, an economy and a global pro-Ukrainian anti-Putin coalition.”

None of the state leaders who signed the agreements mentioned a word about the alleged preparation for war against Russia. The goal, as all three statements indicate, was to stop a war that was already underway and to strengthen Ukraine's defenses in case it resumed. According to all three former presidents, that goal was achieved.

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