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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

Significant reduction in ceasefire violations since Aug agreement, though increasing through Sept; 220 violations reported 21 Sept, days after OSCE deputy Alexander Hug warned of likely uptick. Ukraine reported four soldiers, two border guards and several Donetsk People’s Republic fighters killed during month; six civilians on both sides of line of separation injured. OSCE reported 68 civilians killed in 2017, 315 wounded. Senior officials described large 27 Sept military depot explosion as major blow to Ukraine’s fighting capacity. Putin proposed UN peacekeeping mission for Donbas 5 Sept, in shift from previous opposition to idea; proposal initially specified forces only along front line to protect OSCE monitoring mission (SMM), however Putin told German Chancellor Merkel 11 Sept that he would consider it in all areas where SMM operates. Western observers, including U.S. envoy Volker, expressed cautious optimism, others described it as “a distraction”. Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin 19 Sept said that any peacekeepers should cover all Donbas including Russia’s border, and be accompanied by withdrawal of Russian regular and irregular troops and weapons; Poroshenko repeated this at UN General Assembly. Klimkin 26 Sept said draft peacekeeping force resolution ready for UN submission once Russia indicates willingness to accept Kyiv’s terms. U.S. Senate 18 Sept approved defence budget with $500mn in Ukraine security assistance, including controversial defensive lethal assistance. EU-Ukraine Association Agreement entered into force 1 Sept; EU official 20 Sept said Kyiv needs to implement more reforms in coming months including on corruption as condition for further financial aid. EU also extended for six months asset freezes and travel bans on Russian officials and Donbas separatists. Standoff between Poroshenko and erstwhile Georgian president, ex-Odessa governor Mikheil Saakashvili, now a vocal govt critic, escalated after Saakashvili illegally entered Ukraine from Poland 10 Sept, swearing to help solve country’s political crisis. UN human rights office 25 Sept reported Russian state agents in Crimea have committed grave human rights violations since Russian annexation of region in 2014, including torture, arbitrary arrests, forced disappearances and at least one extrajudicial execution.

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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

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Jonathan Brunson

Senior Analyst, Ukraine/Eastern Neighbourhood