Mel Levitsky was quoted in an International Business Times story on the recently negotiated cease-fire between Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists. While both sides gave concessions to end the fighting in eastern Ukraine, reporter Dennis Lynch notes that doubts over whether the new agreement will last, including its ceasefire, are widespread. Lynch highlighted the victories and defeats each side came away with following the negotiation, held in Minsk, Belarus, in “Ukraine Ceasefire Agreement: Who Came Out On Top In Minsk?”
Levtisky provided insight into the agreement’s impact on Ukraine and Petro Poroshenko, the country’s president. Poroshenko is expected to face resistance from hardliners in his country’s parliament over the agreement to recognize separatist territory as semi-autonomous, according to Lynch. While the status of Crimea, which Russia unilaterally annexed last year, was not explicitly addressed in the Minsk agreement, Levitsky, a former U.S. ambassador, noted its significance in the ongoing dispute.
“Crimea is gone; Ukraine isn’t getting it back,” Levitsky said. “That will remain an irritant in the relationship. No matter who says what, Poroshenko can’t say, ‘OK, we give up, you can have Crimea.’ He has to maintain a stance.”
Mel Levitsky is a professor of international policy and practice at the Ford School of Public Policy, as well as a faculty associate of the Center for Russian and East European Studies (CREES). During his 35-year career as a diplomat, Levitsky served as U.S. ambassador to Brazil from 1994 to 1998, and also held such senior positions as executive secretary of the State Department, ambassador to Bulgaria, and deputy assistant secretary of state for human rights. Earlier in his career, Levitsky was political officer at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and a consul at U.S. consulates in Belem, Brazil and Frankfurt, Germany.