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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

Casualties in eastern Ukraine spiked in second half of July after several weeks of modest decline; nine soldiers reported killed in several incidents 20 July, deadliest day of conflict for months. Kyiv 10 July reported that work on draft law to change terms of engagement in Donbas from anti-terror to liberation operation, announced 13 June, is being put aside. Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) head Aleksandr Zakharchenko 18 July announced formation of new political entity, Malorossiya (“Little Russia”), uniting DNR and Luhansk People’s Republic; announcement criticised by Kyiv and West, dismissed by Russia. U.S. Sec State Rex Tillerson 7 July announced former ambassador to NATO Kurt Volker as new U.S. special representative for Ukraine; Volker visited Ukraine with Tillerson 9 July and again late month, said conflict not frozen but a “hot war”, important for U.S. to become more engaged; 25 July said U.S. is considering sending Kyiv lethal weapons to help fight separatists. Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine participated in phone call 24 July in Normandy format, called for immediate halt to ceasefire violations. U.S. Senate 27 July approved new sanctions on Moscow; Russia condemned sanctions, EU expressed concern over impact on European energy security. Poroshenko met NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels 10 July, said Ukraine and NATO had started discussing membership action plan; NATO spokesman stated NATO had taken Ukraine’s ambitions into consideration but did not confirm existence of a plan. Stoltenberg expressed NATO’s “unwavering support” for Ukraine’s territorial integrity, called on Russia to remove its “thousands of soldiers from Ukraine” and stop supporting militants with military equipment. Visiting Odessa during joint U.S.-Ukraine military exercises 17 July, Poroshenko reiterated intention to put action plan for NATO membership “back on the agenda”. Ukraine 26 July cut power supply to separatist-controlled areas of Donetsk. EU 11 July formally endorsed EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, to enter into force 1 Sept.

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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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