Donbas: The price of peace

On April 11th CEPS invited two researchers from the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation (DIF) – Iryna Bekeshkina and Olexiy Haran – to come to CEPS and discuss the prospects for conflict resolution in the Donbas. Based on recent sociological data they had gathered from national surveys in Ukraine, the experts concluded that the option of “peace at any price” does not hold sway in any of Ukraine’s regions, including the Ukrainian-controlled part of the Donbas. Moreover, since 2015, public opinion in the Donbas region has been developing in line with overall national trends. According to the polls, the provision of security conditions (permanent ceasefire, demilitarisation and border control by the Ukrainian government) should take priority before any political part of the Minsk peace process is carried out.

For example, the most unacceptable proposal among respondents was the demand to hold local elections as called for by militants in the Donbas (71% expressed opposition), followed by granting full amnesty to all participants of military actions against Ukraine’s military forces (68% feel this is unacceptable). In terms of the future of uncontrolled territories, full and unconditional return to the pre-war status quo received relatively greater support among the respondents surveyed (29%, with 35% in the Donbas) among all other options. According to these two experts, the views of Ukrainian citizens should be taken into account by the government and its Western partners when advocating particular ways to solve the conflict between Ukraine and Russia.