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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Russia’s Next Move on Ukraine

27.09.2016 | Carnegie Moscow

Russia’s Next Move on Ukraine

The most likely scenario for eastern Ukraine is that a low-level conflict will continue to simmer. Moscow needs to give up its pipe dream that a pro-Russian government will come to power in Kiev, and forget its convenient but misleading stereotypes about its large neighbor. Russia’s Ukraine policy is in the spotlight once again over the fragile ceasefire in the Donbas and talk of resurrecting the so-called Normandy format negotiations between the leaders and foreign ministers of Ukraine, Russia, Germany, and France on resolving the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Moscow should realize that Kiev’s anti-Russian stance is here to stay, and reassess its long-term policy regarding its neighbor accordingly.
Right now, the main topic of discussion is the implementation of Minsk II, as the agreement reached in the Belarusian capital in February 2015 is known. However, it is unlikely that the agreement will be fully carried out. Minsk II mostly suits Russia, but it hardly does Kiev. Implementation of the agreement would mean autonomy for the Donbas and de facto constitutional regionalization of Ukraine, which would effectively preclude Kiev from even applying for NATO membership. It would legitimize a Russian enclave in the Donbas and provide amnesty for leaders of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics, and it would transfer responsibility for the welfare of the region’s more than one million people from Moscow to Kiev.

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