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Ukraine

Since 2014, a war with Russia-backed separatists has killed 10,000 people in eastern Ukraine, Russia has annexed Crimea and Ukraine’s relationship with the European Union has suffered due to corruption and failed political reform. Crisis Group supports and reports on implementation of the 2015 Minsk Agreement to turn a ceasefire between the warring parties into a peace deal. Through a network of contacts on both sides of the conflict divide, we assess the dire humanitarian situation and engage local and foreign actors to prevent clashes from escalating, facilitate conflict settlement and strengthen a reintegrated Ukrainian state.

CrisisWatch Ukraine

Deteriorated Situation

As fighting continued in Donbas and civilian cross-line movement ceased due to COVID-19 restrictions, creation of Minsk Trilateral Contact Group advisory council (which Kyiv said would give residents of conflict-affected areas opportunity to input into implementation of 2015 Minsk II agreements) led to split within ruling party, potentially derailing conflict-resolution process. In conflict zone, eleven govt soldiers reported killed and seven Russian-backed fighters killed according to unofficial data. Two civilians were killed in shelling, gunfire and landmine incidents per Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). In unprecedented move, head and deputy head of Ukraine’s and Russia’s presidential administrations respectively 11 March signed working protocol for new advisory council within Minsk Trilateral Contact Group for Donbas negotiations; council will adopt non-binding recommendations on implementation of 2015 Minsk II agreements; OSCE, Russia, France and Germany will have consultative powers; representatives of non govt-controlled areas identified as “plenipotentiary”. Decision divided ruling party: 50 MPs from President Zelenskyy’s “Sluha Narodu” party signed appeal to retract agreement. Kyiv police say 1,000 protesters 14 March marched against what organisers called Zelensky’s “capitulation” to Russia. Amid spread of COVID-19, military 16 March stopped movement at all civilian entry-exit checkpoints at contact line in Donbas for two weeks, except permanent residents; Russia-backed fighters took same measures starting 21 March. Kyiv closed its state borders 27 March. Zelenskyy 4 March replaced his cabinet. Parliament 31 March passed laws forbidding past owners of insolvent banks from regaining assets; permitting sale of land, paving way for $8bn in credit from International Monetary Fund.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

17 Mar 2020
Maybe there’s a shift in thinking about war [in Ukraine]. What is the point of fighting now? Maybe it’s better to self-isolate, rather than sit in trenches. New York Times

Anna Arutunyan

Senior Analyst, Russia
24 Sep 2019
Ukraine is really dependent on [U.S.] aid and support, and that makes it an easy country to influence, because of that, at least on paper. Vice

Olga Oliker

Program Director, Europe and Central Asia
16 Aug 2016
Russia is intensely frustrated by the lack of movement on the February 2015 Minsk agreement, and has sought to put the onus for the lack of progress on Ukraine. Reuters

Paul Quinn-Judge

Former Senior Adviser, Ukraine and Russia

Latest Updates

Rebels without a Cause: Russia’s Proxies in Eastern Ukraine

Russia and the separatists it backs in Ukraine’s east are no longer quite on the same page, especially since the Kremlin abandoned ideas of annexing the breakaway republics or recognising their independence. The rift gives the new Ukrainian president an opportunity for outreach to the east’s embattled population, including by relaxing the trade embargo.

Is Russia Changing Its Calculus in Eastern Ukraine?

Amid expectations that Russia will test Ukraine’s new president with escalatory actions, it appears that its calculus is to wait for Kyiv’s administration to make the first move – while quietly helping the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics entrench themselves economically.

Getting Aid to Separatist-held Ukraine

The front lines in eastern Ukraine are slowly freezing in place, as is civilian deprivation in the conflict zone. An embargo, bureaucracy and distrust conspire to keep humanitarian aid out. Russia and Ukraine should find politically neutral ways to unblock the flow of assistance.

A Shadow over Ukraine’s Presidential Election

With Ukraine’s establishment forecasting doom after the presidential runoff, the far right’s influence on politics is impossible to ignore. Its resurgence is both a symptom and a cause of the country’s ills: there is less daylight between it and the political mainstream than either admits.

Reducing the Human Cost of Ukraine’s War

A confrontation in the Azov Sea in November 2018 exacerbated hostilities between Russia and Ukraine and dashed hopes for an early resolution to the six-year war. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2019 for European policymakers, Crisis Group urges the EU to continue its support for a negotiated settlement and pressure Kyiv to protect civilians.

Our People

Katharine Quinn-Judge

Senior Analyst, Ukraine

Bogdan Voron

Giustra Fellow, Ukraine