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CrisisWatch Ukraine

Unchanged Situation

Local elections took place across country, excluding some communities and separatist-held areas in east, while July ceasefire in Donbas largely held. First round of local elections 25 Oct organised nationwide; in setback for President Zelenskyy, incumbent mayors in major cities held off challenges from his Sluha Narodu party. Separatist-held areas in east excluded from vote as per parliament’s July decree, many residents near front line also excluded for security reasons. Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) observers praised vote as well organised but raised concerns many residents near front line in East could note vote despite absence of direct hostilities in years. In conflict zone, July ceasefire largely held although two govt servicemen were killed and two injured, according to Ukrainian officials; both sides sustained non-live-fire casualties, including at least one Ukrainian soldier injured, according to military authorities, and 11 Russian-backed fighters killed, according to social media reports. Landmines injured one man 4 Oct, two boys 6 Oct, and three male civilians 9 Oct. OSCE Special Monitoring Mission Chief Monitor Yaşar Halit Çevik 8 Oct noted that de facto authorities continued to hamper movements of ceasefire monitors in non-govt-controlled areas. In Luhansk region, govt 12 Oct announced closure of civilian crossing Stanytsia Luhanska until 30 Oct due to quarantine; hundreds of civilians trapped at closed checkpoints; armed forces 28 Oct extended closure to 15 Nov. Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (D/LPR) de facto authorities reported significant rise in COVID-19 cases, while de facto DPR Health Minister Aleksandr Opryshenko 15 Oct admitted true rate of infection higher than official one and testing capacity lacking; de facto DPR head Denis Pushilin 16 Oct cancelled public sporting events. In blow to ongoing anti-corruption reforms, Constitutional Court 27 Oct abolished criminal liability for inaccurate asset declaration by govt officials, prompting thousands 30 Oct to rally in capital Kyiv, and Zelenskyy to call for Constitutional Court’s judges to be fired. EU-Ukraine Summit memorandum 5 Oct noted “Ukraine’s constructive approach in the Normandy Format and the Trilateral Contact Group”, calling on Russia to ensure OSCE ceasefire monitors can access parts of non govt-controlled areas near Russian border.

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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

Former 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

Peace in Ukraine I: A European War

To help Ukraine find peace, the EU, NATO, and member states must seek new approaches to arms control discussions with Russia and European security as a whole. They should also consider a more flexible sanctions policy, such that progress in Ukraine may lead to incremental easing.

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Peace in Ukraine: A Promise yet to Be Kept

Last May, President Volodymyr Zelensky took office promising to end the then-five-year old war with Russia. As his administration approaches its one-year anniversary, however, Zelensky’s peacebuilding efforts face backlash in Kyiv, skepticism in Moscow, and hostility in the Russian-backed breakaways in Donbass.

Originally published in ISPI

Ukraine Walks a Tightrope to Peace in the East

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has embarked on an uncertain path to end the war in the region of Donbas, but his efforts have revived a process that had seemed increasingly hopeless. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2020 for European policymakers, Crisis Group urges the EU to support Zelenskyy’s efforts to end the separatist conflict in the east.

A Possible Step Toward Peace in Eastern Ukraine

Kyiv has accepted the Steinmeier formula, a mechanism for jump-starting implementation of the peace deal for parts of eastern Ukraine held by Russian-backed separatists since 2014. This decision is welcome, but the Ukrainian government should step carefully to boost chances of a settlement.

Q&A / Europe & Central Asia

Ukraine-Russia Prisoner Swap: Necessary, Not Sufficient

A long-awaited prisoner exchange between Ukraine and Russia marks a positive development in their bilateral relationship. Both countries should now build on their recent progress to implement the 2014-2015 Minsk agreements, the surest path to ending the war in eastern Ukraine.

Our People

Katharine Quinn-Judge

Senior Analyst, Ukraine

Bogdan Voron

Giustra Fellow, Ukraine