When Ukrainian high-ranking officials claim that the USA, Germany, France and Ukraine have agreed on the UN Security Council resolution on introduction of peacekeepers into the conflict zone in the Luhansk and the Donetsk oblasts, they do not say that the probability of a positive voting of all permanent members of the Security Council - Russia, in particular – is minimal. But even presuming that the UN will sanction peacekeepers - this is far from a heal-all. After all, peacekeepers can be both a solution to the problem and an instrument of its conservation. It is important - who, where and with what powers will come to establish peace in the Donbass.
Issues of critical importance for the real reintegration remain open: who will pay for restoration of the destroyed infrastructure, who and under what laws will judge the war criminals and in what rights may the political collaborators of CDDLO be limited?
The answers are needed now, both for its own citizens in the occupied territory and Ukrainians in other regions, as well as for the international community. Of course, in case if the Ukrainian government has serious intentions to return the Donbass to Ukraine.
Experts of "The Future of Donbass" debating club discussed the issue of "red lines" of Ukraine in discussion on the solution of problem of CDDLO with the help of the International Provisional Administration (IPA) – an instrument that could contribute not only to the de-occupation, but to the real reintegration of CDDLO. "Red lines" are the limit of admissible compromises, the transition beyond which will be dangerous for the country.
Traces of crimes
"In case of failure of negotiations on peacekeepers, we will be forced to return to Minsk, which will not solve the problems of Ukraine for sure. Accordingly, it will be possible to propose other ways", - Valeriy Kravchenko from the National Institute for Strategic Studies says.
Apart from Minsk, the experts consider two options as the most probable: freezing of the conflict or introduction of the International Provisional Administration.
"The option of "freezing the conflict" is an option of East and West Germany. Both the level of tension along their border and the level of its militarization were very high. As a result, after the geopolitical situation changed, the GDR was actually annexed to the FRG", - Oleksiy Semeniy from the Institute for Global Transformations says. - But the conflict between Russia and Ukraine does not fit this analogy because it is "hot" and regularly leads to victims".
"Even if we wall ourselves off from them, they will still shoot through it, - Serhiy Harmash, the head of the Centre for research of Donbass social perspectives, says. – Russia is not interested in freezing the conflict. It has created and finances them for the constant destabilization of Ukraine, first of all – by war. The Russians do not invest money in the economy of Donbass, on the contrary, they destroy it. But they are spent on the military machine and power block of the puppet "republics". That is, Donbass for them is a weapon against Ukraine and it will not be possible to wall off from it. We have only one option to solve the problem – to liberate this territory by our own or international efforts".
The experts agree that it is better for Ukraine not to wall itself off from the conflict, but to solve it. The most compromise option in the absence of confidence both between the parties to the conflict and the population of the occupied and free territories is the International Provisional Administration. But even here, there are moments, very sensitive for the aggressor, that is, for Russia…
"All the territories where Russia participated in the conflicts are now closed zones - Ossetia, Abkhazia and Transnistria. The situation with Donbass is much more complicated because after the introduction of peacekeepers, the provisional administration and any other option for restoring Ukrainian sovereignty, the scale of crimes, committed there, will become obvious to the international community. All will see mass graves, smuggled enterprises, flooded mines and ecological consequences. This will be a serious blow to the Russian Federation in the international stage, and that is why I do not believe too much that the Russian Federation will agree to some civilized option of withdrawal from the Ukrainian territories, - Mykhaylo Pashkov, the co-director of foreign policy and international security programs of Razumkov Centre, says. - Nevertheless, the concept of the International Provisional Administration can become the second stage and give an answer to the question of what to do with the region after de-occupation".
During the meeting of "The Future of Donbass" debating club, the experts formed a pool of issues which Ukraine should decide even before the preparation of the IPA project for the Luhansk and the Donetsk oblasts.
- What can be the structure of peacekeeping mission? The military contingent of which states can be properly perceived by the local population, given that it actually lives in conditions of propaganda and fear mongering for 3 years?
- Can Ukraine convey the investigation of war crimes, committed in CDDLO, to the International Court of Justice, or should it deal with this issue independently?
- Can Ukraine guarantee an amnesty to those who did not take part in the armed hostilities and be confined to deprivation of political rights to those who worked in the "LDNR" "authorities"? How to distinguish those who worked together with the militias, if necessary, from those who consciously worked against Ukraine? How to be with owners of the LDNR passports and militants from Russia, who anchored in CDDLO, after de-occupation?
- What should the local police be like in the transition period?
- Who should pay for restoration of the damaged infrastructure? How to return the grabbed business and "nationalized" enterprises? Who should pay the debts that have accumulated since 2014 and should they be paid at all?
- How and when to hold local elections there and whether to organize parliamentary elections in the next 5 years?
- Is it worth to interfere in the humanitarian policy of the region? How to clean the media field?
Those are the questions, without the solution of which, the arrangement of normal life on temporarily uncontrolled territories is impossible.
Areas of responsibility
If the resolution on peacekeepers or the IPA is still voted on - how the contingent will be composed?
"India and Bangladesh have the largest peacekeeping contingent, these states are financially motivated to participate in international peacekeeping missions, in other words, they earn on it", - Yevhen Yaroshenko, an expert at the International Center for Policy Studies, says. "Russia has only 400 military personnel, while its financial contribution to the UN fund is very significant, accordingly, its influence is realized through financial instruments".
Experts note that in order to achieve real peace in Ukraine, it will be extremely important to balance the composition of the military contingent so that the Russian Federation does not get a big influence there.
"The peacekeeping mission must first establish control over the border and exclude the possibility of free movement of Russian soldiers and weapons, after which the IPA will have a real opportunity to establish an order in this territory", - Serhiy Harmash believes.
Should Russia pay for infrastructure restoration? Of course, yes. But is it real?
"I doubt that Russia will be ready to finance another subsidized region, there are already so many in Russia itself. The standard of living in Russia has seriously fallen over the last few years, unless, of course, we look at regions rather than Moscow. Negative effect is felt almost everywhere, and negative quantitative changes will gradually develop into qualitative ones", - Mykhaylo Pashkov is sure.
Oleksiy Semeniy proposes to consider military issues separately from economic ones.
"We must understand that Western donors will not take the Donbass for maintenance. I believe that economic issues should be considered separately from military-political issues. First of all, the IPA will have to ensure security, legal regime, operation of the minimal infrastructure and provision of humanitarian assistance. At the same time, the economic regime of "self-sufficiency" of the region will help Kyiv to avoid economic pressure. Perhaps it is really worth creating a free economic zone there with zero tax rates, because only under such conditions the economic revival is possible in the region. And the introduction of the jurisdiction of British law will be one of the key factors that can help it. In general, the Marshall Plan is really needed for this region. And humanitarian policy issues in general should be postponed until the elections in the CDDLO, as they are not a priority", - Oleksiy Semeniy says.
International tribunal or amnesty?
Experts agree that the involvement of peacekeepers and the IPA will improve the situation with the investigation of crimes committed by militants, while minimizing potential corruption risks.
Vladimir Putin recently said that if peacekeepers are deployed, "events like those that occurred in Srebrenica" can happen again if the border is closed "until political issues are resolved". He intimidated Russians with the massacre that the Bosnian Serbs under the command of General Ratko Mladic organized in 1995 in Bosnia and Herzegovina, killing about 7,000 Muslims. Mladic was recently found guilty and convicted by the Hague Tribunal for life imprisonment. However, there is no reason to compare the situation in Bosnia and Ukraine.
"All crimes against humanity, according to international law, will be placed in the jurisdiction of the international criminal court, the Ukrainian law on amnesty will not apply to them", - Semeniy said. - At the same time, of course, there will be informal agreements and you can be sure that the Russian Federation will take all the necessary ones, and dispose of unnecessary militants on its own. Ukraine will only be able to identify single dangerous for the state people".
In addition, Ukraine will need to decide on how it will deal with small officials of the "authorities" in the CDDLO, employees of the budgetary sphere, emigrants from Russia and holders of the "LDNR" passports.
"It will not be about mass repression, of course", - Semeniy says.
"Even if Ukraine wanted to punish everyone who was somehow involved in the power and budget structures of the "DNR-LNR", it would be physically impossible, since it is about 50 thousand people. And there are only about 44 thousand prisoners in Ukraine. That is, we still do not have the needed penitentiary infrastructure. And, fortunately, there is an understanding in politics that there is a need to distinguish criminals and hostages of the situation", - Serhiy Harmash adds.
Experts basically agree with this statement. The conflict in the Donbass is inspired and supported exclusively by Russian militants, weapons and money. In case of deoccupation, the absolute majority of the population will peacefully return to Ukraine.
All issues of documents verification, restoration of property rights, humanitarian policy, etc. experts suggest postponing to a later date, as they will largely depend on whether the international community can effectively influence Russia and force it to withdraw its soldiers and stop funding.
"The main task of the IPA will be the restoration of order, not necessarily the order that existed before the crisis", - Oleksiy Semeniy sums up.
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. Opinions expressed in written or electronic publications do not necessarily represent those of the Black Sea Trust the German Marshall Fund, or its partners