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Does Zelenskyy have a strategy for managing the Donbas conflict?

The road to peace in Donbas has not appeared smooth and straightforward, as had been expected by President Zelenskyy and his team. The emphasis on humanitarian issues cannot neglect the security situation on the ground nor the unchanged role of the Kremlin.

An attack initiated by representatives of the breakaway territories near Zolote, a town in the Luhansk Oblast, in the early morning of February 18th of this year could dramatically change President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his team’s conflict perception. What has been announced as the biggest separatist offense since 2018 naturally clashes with the pacifistic and human-oriented approach of Kyiv’s new leader. But further developments and statements have shown that we can expect no real change in either rhetoric or tactics.

April 7, 2020 - Hanna Shelest

The challenge of reintegration

A secure reintegration policy for Donbas should include two dimensions: de-occupation and strengthening of national cohesion. Every political step that emphasises one dimension of reintegration at the expense of the other jeopardises the security of those involved and thus the foundations for a sustainable political dialogue.

Rebooting the peace process and reuniting Ukraine – these lofty promises are the mainstay of the presidency of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy since his election last year. In this spirit, during the first so-called Unity Forum held on October 30th 2019 in Mariupol, Zelenskyy introduced three crucial steps on how he sees the process of bringing the occupied territories back to Ukraine: ceasefire, reconciliation and safe reintegration.

April 7, 2020 - Igor Mitchnik Tim Bohse

Evolution of an identity

The war has destroyed and continues to devastate Donbas. A majority of the region’s residents have no place to work or means to make a living. One way or another, these circumstances are forcing those who can afford it to abandon the region. Yet I know that even now there are many in Donbas who consider themselves Ukrainian. Unfortunately, they cannot openly express their beliefs.

I was born in Donetsk in the late 1960s and have lived here all my life. My views of Donbas and its people have been shaped for over decades and they have not changed much in recent years. However, in the first year of the Russian military aggression into our land I began to understand, for the first time, how difficult it is to explain some of the circumstances of our Donbas life to people, even though to us living here these things are quite simple and understandable. With this remark, I would now like start my essay, or rather a discussion, about the self-identification of the people of Donbas during the war.

April 7, 2020 - Volodymyr Rafeenko

Donbas veterans establish their place in Ukrainian society

An interview with Anton Kolumbet, the (former) first deputy minister for veteran affairs in Ukraine. Interviewer: Kateryna Pryshchepa
KATERYNA PRYSHCHEPA: A report recently published by the International Organization for Migration states that Donbas war veterans often face difficulties with access to services and benefits they are formally entitled to. In addition, they also face conflict situations in society. Is it possible to change these tendencies by legal means, or is there a need for information campaigns?

ANTON KOLUMBET: The problem stems from the fact that the current social guarantees and services for war veterans in Ukraine are still regulated by the law adopted in 1992. That law basically replicates the norms of Soviet legislation regarding the Second World War and Afghan war veterans. In the USSR the state was the principal property owner and the manager of social services: under our current free market economic conditions, some of those old benefits simply cannot be offered by the state anymore.

April 7, 2020 - Anton Kolumbet Kateryna Pryshchepa

Borders might be closed, but our policies need to be open

Today, while the entire world is affected by the ongoing SARS-COV-2, Europeans are, more than ever, together in their fight. Our borders might be closed, but our hearts, minds and policies should stay open, especially to those who need help and solidarity the most.

April 1, 2020 - New Eastern Europe

Stay home. Stay safe. Read NEE

In an effort to help cope with the ongoing Coronavirus situation, New Eastern Europe has prepared a special page that will be updated regularly which includes recommended readings from the archives, latest commentaries and news and featured podcasts.

March 30, 2020 - New Eastern Europe

Coronavirus in the Eastern Partnership states (updates)

New Eastern Europe is providing an update on the situation with COVID-19 (coronavirus) in the Eastern Partnership states. Each have enacted certain policies aimed at minimising the spread of the infection. Below we give the current status of these policies as well as an updated number of reported cases by country.

March 16, 2020 - New Eastern Europe

History as a battleground: What’s next in Russia’s constitutional reform?

Earlier this year, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin proposed a range of sweeping constitutional changes to ensure a favourable power transition scenario for the country’s leadership. The reform would also allow Kremlin-linked historians and policy advisers to introduce an alternative, politically advantageous narrative of the Second World War, as the past takes on increased significance in legitimising the regime.

February 18, 2020 - Anastasiia Starchenko

From government reshuffle to snap parliamentary elections: Political renewal in Azerbaijan?

Rather than renewal, these moves suggest elite realignment as the resource pool shrinks.

February 7, 2020 - Farid Guliyev

The West Berlins of our time

An interview with Brian Whitmore, a senior fellow and director of the Russia Program at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA). Interviewer: Adam Reichardt

ADAM REICHARDT: I would like to start with a question on one of the main topics we are covering in this issue – which is the movement of some in the West, like French President Emmanuel Macron, and others, who are calling for more dialogue with Russia. Foreign Affairs recently published a piece by Thomas Graham titled “Let Russia be Russia”, where the author writes that the West “should give up any ambitions of expanding NATO farther into the former Soviet space.” What is your take on this? Why are so many voices calling for better relations with Russia despite the fact that Russia has made zero concessions or offered any compromises after its aggression in Ukraine or interference and disinformation campaigns in the West?

BRIAN WHITMORE: There are two ways to look at this. First is the cynical view, that Russia is using its financial network of influence in Europe and the West to push these messages. The other interpretation is that there is a certain level of naiveté in the West when it comes to Russia, and especially Vladimir Putin. Whatever the case, we have to ask ourselves some serious questions here. When we have voices saying, “We should have a dialogue with Russia” – the question is, dialogue about what?

January 28, 2020 - Adam Reichardt Brian Whitmore

The end of the belle époque

It seems that the latest belle époque in western history is nearing its end, which could mean the end of the West as we know it. A miracle can happen, of course, as history is full of unexpected turns and changes, but if the current trends continue we can only await the melancholy of the fin de siècle before another massive change.

The first belle époque preceded the First World War. It took place when, after the end of the French-Prussian war in 1871, European states experienced an extraordinary economic and cultural boom. The telephone, the automobile, as well as the aeroplane were the great inventions of the belle époque which defined our understanding of the comfort and progress of the 20th century. Thanks to these three inventions, as well as peace and prosperity, the Third French Republic and Imperial Germany were able to increase their might and thus rapidly developed.

January 28, 2020 - Paweł Kowal

Putin has done nothing to deserve an extended hand from the West

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov visited Washington, DC last December for a meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and a visit to the Oval Office with President Donald Trump. This was Lavrov’s second such visit during the Trump administration; his first visit occurred in May 2017, when pictures emerged of him, Trump, and then-Russian Ambassador to the US, Sergei Kislyak, yucking it up in the White House the day after Trump fired the head of the FBI, James Comey.

January 28, 2020 - David J. Kramer

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