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Issue 3/2020: War in Donbas

Its costs, challenges and the commitment to peace. New Eastern Europe issue 3/2020 is now available!

April 7, 2020 - New Eastern Europe - Issue 3 2020Magazine

This issue takes an in-depth look at the war in Donbas, in eastern Ukraine, which is now already in its sixth year. Our authors point to the high costs of the war that the impoverished Ukrainian state continues to face and manage; discuss what Europe can and should do to help; as well as analyse the policies of the new Ukrainian authorities who came to power and received a huge social mandate for their declared commitment to peace.

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In this light, the words of Rebecca Harms, a former member of the European Parliament, profoundly resonate when she writes: “the fight against the Putin system in Kyiv will be decided by means of successful democratic reforms and the establishment of the rule of law. The correct path has been chosen, but it is a long one and it will not be smooth and easy. It is hampered by the fact that the reform-oriented Association Agreement with the EU has so far been interpreted as an alternative to membership.”

Strongly supporting Ukraine’s EU aspirations we also encourage you to read the two texts that focus on the identity of people in Donbas. Their authors, Volodymyr Rafaenko (a Ukrainian writer and poet from Donetsk) and Wojciech Siegień (a Polish academic researching cultural changes in eastern Ukraine) point to some lesser known aspects of the region’s social tissue. In line with the theory of long-term social processes, these two articles highlight important changes, but also risks, that should be taken into account. They include both the primarily Ukrainian identity of Donbas residents but also their susceptibility to ill-intended promises of making the region great again.

In addition, we encourage you to read the section on the memory of the Second World War, as we commemorate the 75th anniversary of the war’s end this year. Unfortunately, despite the passage of time we can see how history too can fall victim to truth and confirmed facts. Vladimir Putin, whose rule over Russia we can now expect to last until 2036, has clearly showed his intention to rewrite the historical narrative, a dangerous tactic indeed. The same, however, can be said about politicians in other states who for their own political gains are trying to revise the past.

Table of Contents

War in Donbas

How to respond to Putin’s undeclared war
Rebecca Harms

Does Zelenskyy have a strategy for managing the Donbas conflict?
Hanna Shelest

The challenge of reintegration
Tim Bohse and Igor Mitchnik

A tale of two collapses
Wojciech Siegień

Evolution of an identity
Volodymyr Rafeenko

Donbas veterans establish their place in Ukrainian society
An interview with Anton Kolumbet

Opinion & Analysis

Youtubers, influencers and creative activists are the new vanguard in Central Asia
Barbara von Ow-Freytag

Who is behind the plot to topple the Latvian parliament?
Ričards Umbraško

Kaliningrad’s first million
Miłosz J. Zieliński

The broken promises of Ukraine’s police reform
Chris G. Collison

The price of power
Pavel Usov

Moldova (re)balancing its foreign policy
Denis Cenusa

Grim reality after a colourful revolution
Aleksandra Zdeb

A crisis in Georgia’s politics
Mateusz Kubiak

Interpreting the end of the Second World War

Poland becomes a convenient target in Putin’s memory crusade
An interview with Ernest Wyciszkiewicz

Evolution of memory policy in Germany
Christoph Meissner


20 years of NATO’s flagship Multinational Corps Northeast
An interview with Lieutenant General Sławomir Wojciechowski from NATO’s Multinational Corps Northeast

Special Section: 20 years of the Lane Kirkland Scholarship Program

Lane Kirkland Scholarship Program Celebrates its 20th anniversary

The transformation as a learning process
A conversation with Andrew Nagorski

Going West despite everything
Volodymyr Kuzyo

Moldova. A captured state that remains captured
Dan Nicu

Georgia. A successful transformation and a challenge to the oligarchs
Dimitri Avaliani

Art, Culture and Society

The slow shift of the status quo
Anna Fedas


A peek into the shadows of history and the present
Adam Reichardt

Jáchymov. A little spa town and the horrors of forced labour in communist Czechoslovakia
Josette Baer

An investigation into Putin’s useful idiot
Taras Kuzio

Stimulating local memory
Kinga Anna Gajda

In search of the wow effect
Nataliya Parshchyk

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