The expression "the war in the Donbass" became familiar to many and, unfortunately, ousted from the public consciousness a closer to the truth expression "the war in Ukraine". That is, no one argues with the fact that the war is happening in Ukraine, but also in the speeches of politicians, and in the "voice of the people", there is often a feeling for what is happening in the Donbass is the problem primarily of those who live (or lived) in that region. And meanwhile, if we consider the cause-effect relationships of what happened in the east of Ukraine, then very few people will deny that if the authorities did not surrender the Crimea without a fight, then there would be no war in the Donbass. Or if Ukraine had a better army and special services, if we really had frontier troops, if politicians did not exploit the topic of division of the country... And imagine, if our police did not work for themselves and the local “little tsars”, but for the state... In such case, could a crowd from Rostov run with Russian flags in Donetsk and Luhansk, showing the local bandits their level of impunity?
"The Donbass and to a lesser extent the Crimea - these are symptoms of the disease, and not the disease itself. The causes of the disease lie in the economic structure of Ukraine, strategic communications, and in the political culture of ordinary citizens and elites", - an expert at the Center for Military and Strategic Studies Hryhoriy Kaposliz said.
It is impossible to solve the problem of Donbass if nothing is changed in Ukraine, if not to eliminate the political, economic, law enforcement, communication factors that led to this problem. But it is also impossible to reform the country, as long as the war devours from $2 to $10 million a day, while the authorities can write off their miscalculations for Putin, and declare any opposition a "hand of Moscow". Experts from leading analytical centers of the country held a regular meeting within the framework of the club "The Future of Donbass" and concluded that everything is interconnected. And it is the current state of Ukraine that does not give any hope of a quick return of the Ukrainian territories, which are now controlled by Russia...
PLACEBO FOR UKRAINIANS
Too often the Ukrainian authorities seek just to demonstrate progress in the politics of the Donbass than to achieve it in reality. This happens for various reasons. Different groups in power make money on war and the state is really weak in the geopolitical arena. Therefore, usually there are more conversations when talking about the war in the East than real actions. But, according to experts, this is better than if the topic was simply hushed up.
"Talks about the peacekeeping mission, and other initiatives, which we already do not remember – all those are a placebo, a pill that does not have any effect, except for self-suggestion and attention. In pedagogy, it is believed that even if you simply pay attention to the child, the end result will still be better than if you did nothing. Discussions on the peacekeeping mission in the Donbass work the same not only for Ukrainian citizens but also for the world community. Although there is still a chance, and quite a big one, of moving on to real action. But how ready is Ukraine to confront Russia in case of the transition to real actions?", - Hryhoriy Kaposliz wonders.
At the same time, Serhiy Harmash, head of the Research Center of Donbass Social Perspectives, sees a serious danger in this placebo: "As long as we swallow the placebo, the real process of treatment is not going on, and the further the disease comes in, the harder it will be to cure it".
"In Ukraine, so far it's not even a question of recognizing the disease, let alone agreeing to its treatment", - agrees Valeriy Kravchenko of the National Institute for Strategic Studies.
One of the main problems of Ukrainian society, which the current war has shown, is a reluctance to see the reality as it is. And it's not just about calling war - a war. One must clearly realize that Russia is too serious an opponent to ignore it in search of a compromise, and the United States has its own interests that do not necessarily coincide with the Ukrainian ones. And all the talk about international law and the world order really ended in February 2014.
"The international security system is extremely inert. In fact, it still works according to the templates of 1945, but that reality has long ceased to exist. The world became different and the solution of security issues requires other approaches, but there are none", - Valeriy says.
So Ukraine itself should become strong and initiate those decisions that are beneficial to it, and not wait for the decision of its fate from the agreements of the USA and Russia. Meantime, we remain the object of someone's geopolitical game, and not the subject.
Valeriy Kravchenko believes that if we are not sufficient at the level of geopolitics, then we need to start a dialogue inside the country, at a non-political level.
"We all have classmates and former neighbors in CDDLO, I am sure that we will be able to establish communication, to understand together how we have reached what we have reached, how we have found ourselves on different sides. I know that in CDDLO, there are a lot of those who were forced into this situation because of tragic personal circumstances. A dialogue at the average level between intellectuals and businessmen, who left the Donbass, and people who stayed there can become a proxy, a transitional format, so as not to involve Ukrainian authorities in the dialogue, thereby technically legitimizing the "DNR". Such format can demonstrate that Ukraine is ready for a constructive movement. However, the authorities should authorize this group to hold such negotiations (as Russia authorized Pushilin) - this is the proxy mechanism", - Valeriy Kravchenko says.
The idea itself is being supported by the club members, but the degree of its usefulness is questioned, because it is more a task for communications and the press, and not for pragmatic arrangements.
"These people decide nothing both in Ukraine and in CDDLO. No one can guarantee them security in Luhansk and Donetsk, and the participants of the discussion from our side will also be tormented in the press", - Harmash says.
Despite the fact that the Minsk agreements are, in fact, the recognition of militants, and negotiations with them are held not only by the former president and prime minister of Ukraine, but by the current deputy speaker of the parliament as well, another TV reality is being creating for us. And this will lead to the fact that attempts of dialogue at a non-political level may be unperceived by our society, and will therefore cause even more aggression and rejection in it.
Prospects for real reintegration of the Donbass become victims to both the "imitation of progress" for Western partners and the inability of the authorities to effectively implement economic reforms.
If there is real progress in the Donbass in Ukraine, the country will face a huge financial challenge, since the restoration of power in the territory of the CDDLO will require significant financial investments, for which there simply will be no resources. Even as we speak, economic problems lead to mass immigration, but if earlier, people mainly from the western regions went to work in the EU, now the residents of the Kharkiv and the Dnipropetrovsk oblasts go, and there is every reason to believe that the flow of immigrants will only grow.
"After the loss of Russian markets, many technical specialists from the central and eastern regions of Ukraine faced unemployment and began to massively leave for Poland and other countries. Also, they leave because they do not want to be drafted – this should also be recognized. Economic difficulties stimulate the outflow of the middle-aged electorate, which will change the country's political map in the near future, as the population's demographic structure has a key influence on the election results", - Valeriy Kravchenko says.
"Until we solve domestic and economic problems, Ukraine will not be institutionally able to resolve the Donbass issue. What is the plan for restoring the Donbass? Or we will return it at first, and then will decide what to do with it further on?", - Hryhoriy Kaposliz asks.
Harmash highlights the negative relationship as well: "Until we solve the issue of war and Donbass, it will be extremely difficult to solve economic issues. The problem of CDDLO was specifically created to hit Ukraine economically and disintegrate it politically", - he is sure.
Maryna Vorotyntseva, Centre for research of Donbass social perspectives
The project is supported by The Black Sea Trust, a project of the German Marshall Fund of the United States.
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