Russia started the special military operation in Ukraine on 24 February, following a request for assistance from the Donbass republics. The latter had been suffering from Ukrainian bombardment over the past eight years as Kiev delayed the implementation of the 2015 Minsk agreements.
Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has suggested in an interview with The Economist that the Russian special military operation in Ukraine might have been avoided if Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had done some of the things that Moscow have been insisting on for years.
Shinzo Abe specified that Zelensky should have made a promise that Ukraine won’t join NATO and should have granted the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR) a high degree of autonomy. The latter was specified in the Minsk agreements, which were signed in 2015 and essentially designed as a roadmap for the reintegration of the DPR and LPR back into Ukraine.
At the same time, the former Japanese prime minister admitted that Zelensky was unlikely to do any of those things.
“I understand this would be hard to do—perhaps an American leader could have done it. But of course [Zelensky] would refuse”.
The ex-prime minister stressed that the only thing that remains now, in his opinion, is to support Ukraine and oppose the Russian special operation there. He further suggested that Russian President Vladimir Putin “believes in power and is a realist at the same time” and will not be making sacrifices for ideals and ideas only.
Putin ordered the launch of the special operation in Ukraine on 24 February following a request for assistance from the DPR and LPR. The latter had been suffering due to Ukrainian military attacks over the past eight years, despite Kiev signing the Minsk agreements seven years ago; these were to serve as a roadmap for ending the conflict and reintegrating the Donbass territories.
Under these agreements both parties were to withdraw troops from the line of fire and engage in talks on conducting fair elections in Donbass to elect local authorities. Kiev was also to pass laws solidifying the Donbass’ special status in Ukraine with wide autonomy that would protect the interests of the local population, specifically the right to use the Russian language, which the majority speaks.
However, the DPR and LPR repeatedly accused Ukraine of stalling the process and failing to pass the necessary laws through the parliament. Kiev, in turn, repeatedly hinted that the Minsk agreements should be scrapped. Despite the Kremlin’s repeated protests, none of the Western countries publicly opposed Kiev’s comments regarding the Minsk agreements.