Here’s a summarized breakdown of the Minsk peace deal:
1. Comprehensive ceasefire to begin at 12:01 a.m., local time, on Sunday, Feb. 15.
2. A withdrawal of heavy weapons by both sides. Kiev is to draw back artillery from the current frontline, while the rebels are required to do it from the frontline demarcated last September, before they captured more ground during their January offensive. The demilitarized zone, to be monitored by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), will be about 30 miles to 90 miles wide. This must be completed by March 1.
3. The entirety of the conflict zone will be monitored by the OSCE, which will use its drones and observers on the ground in eastern Ukraine, as well as satellite images and other technologies to ensure that both parties stick to the deal.
4. Dialogue is to start immediately on holding new local elections in the rebel-held regions, bringing them in line with Ukraine’s legal framework.
5. Amnesty is to be granted to all fighters involved in the conflict.
6. All prisoners are to be released, including 33-year-old Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko, who Moscow says played a role in the killing of two Russian journalists, a crime for which she is currently being held in a Russian prison.
7. Safe passage is to be allowed for humanitarian aid convoys in war-torn areas; this will be overseen by international monitors.
8. Kiev is to fully restore social and economic links to rebel-held areas, as well as banking services in areas affected by the conflict; this includes paying out pensions and welfare.
9. Full control of Ukraine’s border with Russia is to be restored to Kiev, following local elections in rebel-held areas, by the end of 2015.
10. There should be a drawback of all foreign troops, mercenaries and weapons from Ukrainian territory, and all illegal militant groups must disarm; this will be monitored by the OSCE.
11. Constitutional reform is to be carried out in Kiev, and a new constitution — a key element of which will be decentralization — will enter into force by the end of 2015. In addition, a permanent law is to be adopted by the end of 2015 on the special status of certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
12. Local elections are to be monitored by the OSCE to ensure they are up to international standards. The exact procedure for the elections is subject to further negotiations between Kiev and the rebels.
13. Talks between the so-called “contact groups,” comprised of representatives from all sides, are to intensify.
What’s not in the deal:
One major point of contention is Debaltseve, the crucial roadway and rail junction town around 50 miles north of Donetsk. Battles there have been particularly fierce in recent weeks, as the town has grown both strategically and symbolically important to both sides.
In Minsk, Russian President Vladimir Putin urged the thousands of Ukrainian forces holed up in the town to lay down their arms, and retreat peacefully. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has indicated that that won’t happen.
Whatever is decided with Debaltseve will be significant, and possibly a game changer.
One glaring omission is the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea. Nowhere in the document is it discussed what is to become of the Ukrainian territory annexed by Russia after a stealth military invasion last March.