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Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko (C) looks at a Ukrainian flag brought from an eastern region of the country where a military conflict took place, during his visit to an exhibition of new Ukrainian military equipment in Kiev, Ukraine, October 14, 2015. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

Russia and the Separatists in Eastern Ukraine

Europe and Central Asia Briefing N°79, 5 February 2016

A 2015 ceasefire signed in Minsk is largely holding in eastern Ukraine, while the most likely outcome is a brittle, long-term frozen conflict. Nevertheless, Russia is juggling many options, and Minsk remains a vital possible path to resolution. The deal deserves steadfast, sanctions-backed support from the U.S. and European Union.

The Not-So-Frozen Conflicts on Russia’s Borders
People walk near a billboard showing the leader of Georgia’s breakaway region of South Ossetia Leonid Tibilov during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. July 2015. REUTERS/Kazbek Basaev

5 February 2016: Of the six countries singled out by the European Union (EU) as its eastern neighbourhood partners, five are locked in disputes over regions that have claimed independence. Two of these regions have been recognised by Moscow, and Russia is closely engaged in all of them. These standoffs, several dating back to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, are a genuine security and political challenge in a neighbourhood where the EU’s association and Russia’s integration projects are now deadlocked. 

Lebanon’s Christians United in Hope of Effective Presidency

29 January 2016: Lebanon has been without an executive head of state since President Michel Suleiman’s mandate ended in May 2014. In the past few months, however, key Lebanese political players have switched partners, undermining the two blocs that have polarised Lebanon’s government for the past decade. In this Q&A, Crisis Group’s Senior Lebanon Analyst Sahar Atrache assesses what the suddenly shifting alliances mean for this country of about four and a half million people, perched perilously close to the Syrian war and now host to more than one million Syrian refugees.

The Saudi Missions and the Mobs: Who Controls the Iranian Street?

18 January 2016: On 2 January 2016, an unidentified group of people torched the Saudi embassy in Iran in protest against the execution of Shiite Muslim cleric Nimr al-Nimr by Saudi authorities. Many saw the attack as an attempt to undermine the authority of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, ahead of two crucial elections next month, but the situation is far from clear. In this Q&A, Senior Iran Analyst Ali Vaez puts the event into context, explains the history of mob violence in Iranian politics, and looks at the wider long-term implications of the attack.

The Future of Conflict

To mark the 20th anniversary of International Crisis Group, we are publishing a series of 20 essays by foreign policy leaders forecasting the “Future of Conflict”.

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