Almost seven months ago, in Belarus, the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany brokered a ceasefire agreement, known as Minsk II, which mapped out a path to a permanent resolution of the separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine.
Although sporadic shelling has continued, the agreement has provided respite from the intense combat that prevailed through much of 2014.

Unfortunately, the eruption of violent protests in Kiev last week, in response to the Ukrainian parliament’s consideration of a decentralization bill granting greater autonomy to Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, seems to suggest that a permanent resolution is still a long way off. Yet the United States can certainly bring pressure to bear on both Ukraine and Russia to reach a permanent settlement.
In the absence of such an agreement, two unattractive scenarios are imaginable.  The intense fighting that preceded the Minsk II agreement could resume.  Or, as other commentators have pointed out, the indefinite continuation of the tenuous ceasefire could turn into a “frozen conflict,” in which western Ukraine and the Donbass coexist as separate, rival entities.