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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

Unchanged Situation

Campaigning for presidential elections scheduled for 31 March kicked off following expiration of martial law late Dec, as low-level hostilities continued in Donbas and tensions with Russia continued over 25 Nov attack on Ukrainian vessels off Crimea. As of 16 Jan all 22 sailors and two security agents captured by Russian authorities during attack had their pre-trial detention periods extended to late April. Russian FM Lavrov 18 Jan said that Moscow had agreed to German and French offer to monitor traffic in Kerch Strait but questioned need for Kyiv’s approval; Ukrainian FM Klimkin said release of captured sailors should remain primary focus. Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe passed resolution 24 Jan supporting German and French monitoring proposal, calling on Russia to apply Geneva Conventions to Ukrainian captives. OSCE Chairman-in-Office Martin Saijdik 28 Jan spoke to Austrian newspaper about plans to implement 2014-2015 Minsk Agreements via local elections overseen jointly by OSCE and UN in areas currently held by Moscow-backed armed groups, along with formation of European agency for rebuilding Donbas; Saijdik suggested proposal should be subject to approval by Ukrainian and Russian parliaments. Ukrainian FM called plan “same old thing” but praised call for international oversight; de facto FM of so-called Donetsk People’s Republic termed it “attempt to sabotage the Minsk process”. Three civilians injured in Donbas conflict zone over month, while seven elderly people died waiting to cross Line of Separation in harsh weather conditions; at least three Ukrainian military members and seven armed group fighters killed, at least 28 injured. With over 100 religious communities leaving Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate to join newly-formed Orthodox Church in Ukraine since mid-Dec, Kyiv passed legislation 28 Jan outlining procedures for congregations to switch allegiance and handle disputes over use of worship sites. Kyiv district court sentenced ex-President Viktor Yanukovych in absentia 24 Jan to thirteen years in prison on charges of committing state treason and colluding to wage war against Ukraine and undermine its territorial integrity.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

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

Helping Civilians in Ukraine’s Eastern Donbas Region

While Ukraine’s territorial integrity remains compromised, every effort must be made to improve the plight of residents in the eastern Donbas region. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2018 annual early-warning update for European policy makers, Crisis Group advises the EU and its member states to provide these citizens with funds for compensation and encourage Kyiv to pass legislation that restores residents’ pension payments.  

“Nobody Wants Us”: The Alienated Civilians of Eastern Ukraine

With living conditions worsening, and crossfire still claiming casualties, people residing in eastern Ukraine’s conflict zone feel increasingly abandoned by the central government. Reintegrating the area requires Russian withdrawal, but in the meantime Kyiv can and should better protect civilians and meet humanitarian needs.

Also available in Українська

Russia and Turkey in the Black Sea and the South Caucasus

Rivalry persists between Russia and Turkey in their shared neighbourhood of the Black Sea and the South Caucasus. But Moscow-Ankara relations have warmed overall. Building on their wider rapprochement, the two powers can work together to tamp down flare-ups of regional conflicts.

Also available in Русский, Türkçe

Peacekeeping in Ukraine’s Donbas: Opportunities and Risks

The prospect of a UN peacekeeping force in Ukraine's Donbas offers a rare opening to discuss how to resolve the conflict. But Moscow's diplomatic overtures also risk fueling political infighting in Kyiv in the run-up to next year's presidential and parliamentary elections.

Ukraine: An Opportunity for Reinforced European Diplomacy

Ongoing clashes with Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine combined with rampant corruption mean Ukraine is at a crossroads. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2018, Crisis Group recommends the EU to condition further technical and financial assistance while pursuing diplomatic engagement in Donbas.