General Conclusions:
Scenarios for Ukraine
Based on the analysis of demographics, economy and humanitarian sphere in certain parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions (ORDLO), the following five scenarios may be singled out for the future of occupied territories of Donbas. Some are better and some are worse but all of those will cost Ukraine a lot.
The worst-case scenario for Ukraine would to be to give up the occupied territories, even though some politicians support this idea. This will result in lifting of Western sanctions against Russia. In effect we will give Russia our blessing for annexation of these territories, which will simultaneously legitimize annexation of Crimea, while bringing no peace to Ukraine. On the contrary, the Kremlin will become sure of its impunity and may attack again any moment to steal some more territory from Ukraine.
Another acceptable variant would be to save the status quo. The West cannot impose sanctions forever. The Kremlin is working hard to rupture the unity of G7 and EU countries. As soon as the sanctions are over, the Kremlin will try to seize the ter-ritories that are currently controlled by the Ukrainian government by using DPR and LPR. As we know, DPR and LPR call these territories 'occupied by Ukraine' and demand their 'return'.
It means that freezing the conflict in Donbas is impossible in reality. The situation with DPR and LPR differs drastically from the situation with other self-proclaimed republics that survive due to Russian occupation forces. Transnistria has no territorial claims towards Moldova just like Abkhazia and Southern Osetia have no claims towards Georgia, while DPR and LPR have significant territorial claims towards Ukraine. Even more, the Kremlin can put DPR and LPR together under the title of Novorossia or Malorossia so that it could claim half of Ukraine (from Kharkiv to Odessa) or even the whole Ukraine. This how Russian bolsheviks seized Ukraine almost one hundred years ago by creating a puppet in Ukrainian SSR and then snatching the territory of Ukrainian National Republic. Thus, an attempt to freeze the status quo at Donbas would mean only one thing – a war is being postponed.
In this connection, it is necessary to mention the role of draft law On the Specific Character of State Policy for Restoration of State Sovereignty of Ukraine over Temporarily Occupied Territories of Donetsk and Luhansk Regions. This law is important because it offers a legal assessment of the current status quo, namely, calls the occupied territories occupied. But as such the law is not an instrument for de-occupation. Ukraine needs additional decisive action supported by measures on international level.
It means we need scenarios that would ensure step-by-step return of the occupied territories of Donbas under the control of Ukrainian government. Step-by-step procedure is possible not only in time but in space. Namely, as a new tool for de-occupation, the mechanism of demilitarized free economic territories can be used (DFET).
Principles for their creation are as follows: DFET undergoes a complete demilitarization (withdrawal of occupation troops and heavy weapons, disarmament and dissolution of illegal military formations); local authorities legitimate as of December 2013 renew their functions; to ensure law enforcement enhanced OSCE missions and local police units guided by OSCE representatives are created; businesses registered according to the laws of Ukraine renew their activities along with branches of Ukrainian banks; resuming their work are also units of State of Fiscal Service of Ukraine that issue Ukrainian certificates of origin for the goods made; and simultaneously freight carrying is restored with the DFET.
This model could be implemented in Luhansk region, namely in Alchevsk industrial district and coal mining areas such Antratsyt, Rovenky, Dovzhansk (former Sverdlovsk), and in Donetsk region – Yenakiievo-Makiivka agglomeration, Khartsyzk. If DFETs created ensure growth of living standards for local inhabitants and enhance their safety, then this model could be used on other territories of Donbas not controlled by the Ukrainian government, and simultaneously preparation for local elections in DFET could be launched. Thus, creation of DFET may become a new hybrid form of de-occupation of not controlled territories and an interim stage before their complete integration into economic and political space of Ukraine.
It is apparent that at first Kremlin will be rejecting this proposal. Yet, it is important to make it part of negotiations. By putting DFET idea on the table Ukraine will take over the initiative in negotiation process and will show the people in occupied territories (and to the world community) that it is ready to provide local businesses with orders and supply workers with jobs and salaries and the pensioners with Ukrainian pensions to be received directly in their cities and towns.
Currently the leading scenario is to have UN peace keepers enter the DFET. Implementation of this scenario entails a number of risks. It is clear that even if such a decision is made, it will be a compromise between the wishes of Kyiv and Moscow. Moreover, as the sad experience of Minsk agreements shows, Russia tends to violate responsibilities it assumes. Even it votes for a version of UN Security Council Resolution on Peace Keepers that is acceptable for Ukraine, there are no guarantees that DPR and LPR will follow it.
In other words, the peace keepers may not get physical access to the whole territory of ORDLO. At the same time the Kremlin will be saying that it is not to blame as they do not control DPR and LPR and will insist that 'Kyiv enter direct negotiations with Donetsk and Luhansk a the problem will not be solved otherwise.' Even if peace keepers successfully enter the whole ORDLO territory this scenario will entail at least three dangers.
The first danger is that Russian occupation troops will stay on the territory as 'people's police of DPR and LPR'. In the same manner the occupation administration will retain its power under the mask of 'republics'.
The second danger lies in Kremlin backpedaling the return of occupied territories under the control of Ukraine in every way possible through DPR and LPR. And the peace keepers will serve as a live shield to protect DPR and LPR from any problems from Ukrainian side.
And finally, the third danger is a partial lift of sanctions of the West that the Kremlin can trade for its consent to peace keepers. In such a way Ukraine will de facto get nothing and the ORDLO will still remain beyond the control of Kyiv and Russia will solve its financial problems with the cancellation of sanctions.
Of course, it does not mean that we should refuse the peace keepers. Yet, we need to realize that Russia will start fulfilling its responsibilities and make real steps towards the return of ORDLO under the control of Ukrainian government only if they make sure that otherwise Ukraine is capable of using the power scenario for de-occupation of Donbas.
Regardless of the Kremlin agreeing to scenario No. 3 (which means creation of DEFT), No. 4 (sending in peace keepers) or any combination of those, scenario No. 5 – one employing power, must be designed. At the same time work on such a scenario will serve as that impetus that will make the Kremlin fulfil the agreements. Undoubtedly, it must be a hybrid scenario as this is the only adequate response to hybrid aggression of Russia.
On the one hand, Ukraine must enhance its military capacities. There is hope that the Western partners will realize the necessity of helping Ukraine with such a weapon that would increase machine and man force loss of the occupation troops in case large-scale military action is resumed in Donbas. Such help is needed to curb the desire of the Kremlin for new acts of aggression against Ukraine. For this it would be expedient to make a decision on expansion of conscription and significant involvement of citizens in creation and training of territorial defense units in Kyiv and all the regions.
On the other hand, it is necessary to make the lives of occupation regimes in ORDLO as hard as possible. Namely, make Ukrainian TV and radio broadcasting available on all the occupied territory. At the same time, the content of such programmes must be relevant. Particular attention should be paid to crime rate on occupied territories, namely reports of terror both on the part of 'military' and 'civil' representatives of the occupation regime towards local inhabitants, reports on how they seize businesses, take away houses etc, on crimes of former militants who murder, rob, steal cars and rape. It is also necessary to raise other problems that are relevant for locals: unpaid salaries, lack of jobs, close down of factories, flooding of mines, environmental hazards, unavailability of medical services, demographic crisis, half-empty schools, poor quality food coming from Russia etc. All these facts prove that Russia has come to Donbas to destroy it. And the more locals become aware of this, the easier de-occupation of ORDLO is going to be.
Apart from this, it is necessary to use conflicts between different formations, local and Russian, that are dividing the turfs in ORDLO. These conflicts will inevitably grow stronger as Russia's ability to support DPR and LPR financially is decreasing. Ukrainian special services and information resources must promote exacerbation of this interior struggle. It will not only make reoccupation easier, but will also decrease the chance of anti-Ukrainian forces at local elections after de-occupation.
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