It didn't work before. So why is Ukraine seeking a new peace deal?

Did Russia violate the Budapest agreement?
Did Russia violate the Budapest agreement?

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    Did Russia violate the Budapest agreement?

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Did Russia violate the Budapest agreement? 01:56

Story highlights

  • Ukraine and the rebels signed an agreement six months ago to end the fighting
  • Violence only got worse after the deal was signed, but they're trying again
  • The United States is considering arming Ukraine if there is no deal

(CNN)Six months ago, warring parties battering each other with heavy weapons in eastern Ukraine sat down in neighboring Belarus to hammer out a deal to end the fighting.

It didn't work.
The deal was signed, but the violence has only worsened since then, so on Wednesday, Ukraine and its Western allies will sit down once again with Russia in Minsk to try to stop the violence.
    No one seems hopeful, not even the European leaders who are pushing the combatants to talk.
    "There is anything but an assurance of success, I have to be very clear about that," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday in Washington, standing alongside U.S. President Barack Obama.
    Neither of them harbored any illusions about the Minsk Protocol signed in September.
    "They violated just about every agreement they made in the Minsk agreement," Obama said of the Russians and the rebels that the United States and other countries say Moscow supports, accusing them of sending in "more tanks and heavy weaponry," shelling villages and driving more Ukrainians from their homes. "These are the facts."
    Russia has steadfastly denied accusations that it's sending forces and weapons into Ukraine. But top Western and Ukrainian leaders have said there isn't any doubt that Russia is behind surging violence and separatists' efforts to take over territory in eastern Ukraine.
    Will diplomacy succeed in Ukraine?
    newday diplomacy in Ukraine Joulwan_00013926

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      Will diplomacy succeed in Ukraine?

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    Will diplomacy succeed in Ukraine? 05:21
    "Minsk has never been implemented. On the contrary, the situation has only gotten worse on the ground," Merkel agreed.
    But she and French President Francois Hollande have been shuttling between the leaders of Russia, Ukraine and the United States over the past week to encourage a new round of talks.
    "They are the two countries that still believe that an agreement is feasible. The U.S. gave up a while ago on this aspiration. These are the two countries that apparently still have some credibility in Russia, that are seen as not being anti-Russia," said Jonathan Eyal, the international director of the Royal United Services Institute, a think tank in London.
    Ukrainian FM on Obama, Merkel talks
    Ukrainian FM on Obama, Merkel talks

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      Ukrainian FM on Obama, Merkel talks

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    Ukrainian FM on Obama, Merkel talks 04:20
    Merkel said it was worth continuing to try.
    "We continue to pursue a diplomatic solution although we have suffered a lot of setbacks," Merkel insisted doggedly. "I don't see a military solution to this conflict."

    Possible talking points

    It's perfectly clear what a deal would entail if one could be reached, Eyal said.
    "Withdrawal of all the armed forces, a large measure of autonomy for the Russian community there -- but the real objectives are likely to be just to try to stop the fighting and perhaps to introduce a number of observers at the border," he explained.
    Ukraine wants its eastern border with Russia closed so Moscow cannot resupply the rebels, Eyal added.
    "The reality is if it wasn't for the constant supply of weapons, food and money, these enclaves are unsustainable and would have collapsed a long time ago," he said.
    Russia won't agree, he predicted.
    "The reality is that there is no hope among Western governments that Russia will simply give up the enclaves," Eyal said.

    U.S. considers weapons for Ukraine

    Obama: No decision yet on arming Ukraine
    tsr dnt acosta obama weapons ukraine merkel_00002602

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      Obama: No decision yet on arming Ukraine

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    Obama: No decision yet on arming Ukraine 02:17
    The threat hanging over the talks is that, if there is no deal, the United States will start shipping more serious weapons to Ukraine.
    Obama said Monday he had not yet made a decision about that.
    Even if Washington does start arming Ukraine, no one seems to expect a military solution to the conflict.
    Sending weapons is "not based on the idea that Ukraine could defeat a Russian army," Obama said frankly, calling it "unlikely" that Ukraine could "rebuff" Russia's military.
    The American goal is for Ukraine "simply to defend itself," the President said.
    Eyal is even more blunt.
    "There is no way the Ukrainians will be able to roll back the Russians," he said.
    The result instead will be a standoff in which Ukraine can hold the line against the rebels, but nothing more.
    "We will end up in a sort of proxy war," Eyal said. "A semi-permanent stalemate is the most likely outcome. It could last for years to come."