Sample Research Paper On The Parties Involved In The Armed Conflict In Donbass
Type of paper: Research Paper
Topic: Ukraine, Russia, Politics, War, Europe, European Union, Conflict, People
The war in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions of Ukraine, which began in April 2014, involves the armed forces of Ukraine and rebel forces mostly consisting of self-proclaimed supporters of Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republic (DPR and LPR respectively). In addition to the armed forces of Ukraine in the battles against the supporters of the DPR and LPR there are also other militant insurgent and non-governmental groups involved. The European Union, NATO, the Council of Europe, the USA, Ukraine and a number of other states blame the Russian Federation in participating in the conflict, particularly, in the use of regular troops on the rebels side, in arms and financial support as well as the readiness to conquer the Ukrainian territories rich in gas, coal, iron ores and other mineral resources. Russia's participation in hostilities is not limited to the supply of weapons and soldiers, but also it manifests itself in participating in the organization of the military command and political decision-making. Russian participation is evidenced in the form of general informational and propaganda war, which is as dangerous as a usual war, since it interferes with attempts on reconciliation and confidence building. According to the official position of the Ukrainian leadership, separatism in Ukraine purposefully fueled by Russia, and many radical “supporters of federalization” appears to be the visiting Russians engaged in Ukraine sabotage activities (Kurcov, 2015).
It is worth reminding the prehistory of cooperation and relationship of the eastern regions of Ukraine since the following facts are going to influence the current situation in the country. Consequence of the February and October revolutions of 1917 in the Russian Empire, its collapse and exit from the First World War, gave rise to the violent conflicts in the struggle for power and change the national polity between the various political, national and social groups in the territory of modern Ukraine. Events culminated in the establishment of Soviet power and the formation of the Ukrainian SSR in most parts of modern Ukraine (except in Western Ukraine, whose territory was divided between Poland, Czechoslovakia and Romania). Mainly eastern regions remained the most violent; however, almost all of the cities were engaged in this civil war. In February 1918 in Kharkov (which used to be a capital of Ukraine) was decided to establish the Donetsk-Krivoy Rog republic. It was opposed to the creation of the Ukrainian People's Republic (proclaimed on the 23 of June 1917), which considered to be bourgeois. In addition, the Ukrainian State, also called the Second Hetmanat, was formed on the November 7, 1917. I the years of the Civil war in Ukraine each of the proclaimed states had its currency, laws, President, army and even Constitution. DKR, Ukrainian State and Ukrainian People’s Republic fought against each other, and this war established the great period of devastation and anarchy. On January 22, 1919 took place a formal association of the Ukrainian People's Republic and the West Ukrainian People's Republic (which was located far more to the west and did not participate in the Civil war since in belonged to another country), at the same time the destruction of the rest of political and armed unification on the territory of Ukraine. Since that time the people of the east of Ukraine consider themselves to belong to Russia, since they fought under its protectorate.
According to the statements of self-proclaimed leaders of DPR and LPR, their states are faced with a direct-armed aggression from Ukraine aimed at the suppression of their sovereignty, and funded by Western countries. Moreover, the DPR did not recognize the new government in Ukraine, and did not aim to carry on with any dialogue. Under the guise of false statements about the alleged conduct of anti-terrorist operation, the Ukrainian government, in fact, declared war against the people, with the involvement of heavy military equipment and aviation. The leaders talk about the involvement of a possibility of application of large-scale bombing attacks on cities. The leader of the rebel states says, “A fascist regime in Ukraine, supported and funded by the United States and Western Europe, is in fact genocide against Russian-speaking population on the territory of the People's Republic of Donetsk.” (Ostrov)
Given the military superiority of the Russian Federation, its leadership position on the classification of foreign military aggression as internal threats, in order to prevent the further introduction of regular Russian troops in the territory of Ukraine, on April 14, 2014 Ukraine began an anti-terrorist operation without imposition of martial law. The zone of the antiterrorist operation covered the Donetsk and Luhansk region (from 14 April 2014), Izyumsky district and the city of Izym in Kharkiv region (April 14 - September 7, 2014).(OSCE)
The war in its classical sense as a clash of states or systems is not represented in Ukraine. So many parties involved in conflict resolution still cannot do anything to stabilize the situation. NATO, EU, USA, and OSCE missions are referring exclusively to economic sanctions against the invader.
Causes of the War
The political crisis in November 2013 triggered by the decision of the Ukrainian government to suspend the process of signing an Association Agreement with the European Union led to massive protests in the city center, as well as in other cities of Ukraine, called in social networks and the media “Euromaidan” by analogy with the events of 2004. For the protection of Euromaidan there were formed the vigilante groups on November 30, 2013. The opposition demanded the resignation of the government and the continuation of European integration. In the following days, opposition-minded protesters in the regions of Ukraine have moved to seize the building of regional state administrations. In western Ukraine, these actions have been successful, while in the regions of central Ukraine, these attempts were stopped by law enforcement. In the result of military confrontation in the city center, there started capturing of the administrative buildings and public authorities in the capital and regional centers, creating parallel authorities, organizations of informal power structures of Ukraine on the verge of a state of emergency, loss of territorial integrity and economic collapse. February 18 was a sharp aggravation of the situation, accompanied by massive bloodshed. On February 21 under the pressure of Western countries. Yanukovich made concessions to the opposition and signed an agreement to settle the crisis in Ukraine provided, inter alia, immediate return to the Constitution in 2004, constitutional reforms and early presidential elections no later than December 2014. The same day, Yanukovych left Kiev. The next day, in his interview he stated that he would not resign and did not intend to sign the decision of the government, which he considers illegal, and the events happening in the country were described as venality, banditry and a coup d’état. A few hours later the government adopted a resolution which stated that Yanukovych’s unconstitutional manner withdrew from the exercise of constitutional powers and did not fulfill its obligations, and called early presidential elections.
The severe political instability in Ukraine during the carrying out on a decision of joining the European Union is one of the most specific consequences of the current war in Donbass and resulted in mass demonstrations by opponents of the government. The former President of Ukraine Victor Yanukovich signed the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the European Union. The point is that the population in Ukraine is extremely specific by its origins and traditions. The western part with the Carpathian Mountains has been under the reign of European countries like Poland, Hungary and Lithuania, so they surely tend to join the EU. The western part of the Ukraine joined the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic only in 1919, and the people on different sides of the country still remain very different. In addition, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) government has cruelly diminished the Ukrainian-speaking population. The other part, mostly Russian-speaking people tend to join their blood brothers on the east, since the thousands of families remain separated by the borders of two countries after the USSR collapse. They were negatively biased against joining the European Union and this fact resulted in Euromaidan – the protests that took place on the biggest square in Europe – the Independence Square – especially against corruption, lawless, and to support the European vector of Ukraine's foreign policy. This protest ended with thousands of victims, wounded and the resignation of President Victor Yanukovich (Kurcov, 2015).
Corruption, lawlessness and permissiveness of the government influenced the masses of citizens to loose, and as it is, of little hope for a brighter future. The brief loss of control over crime resulted in the formation of groups, who ruled the cities in the times of governmental crisis.
The early symptom of the Russian unfriendliness to Ukraine was the export blockade of Ukrainian goods to Russia in 2013. February 20, 2014 was marked with the invasion of Russian armed forces to the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Ukraine Sevastopol with subsequent occupation of the peninsula. The Russian Federation had several significant presuppositions for starting a war. Both Russia and Ukraine support raw materials and energy to Europe, so after signing the Ukrainian Association with EU, Russia may lose positions. Also, the great investments coming to Ukraine in the result of joining the EU may make it more powerful and prosperous. Controlling over the resources in eastern Ukraine is beneficial for Russian industries. In addition, the possibility of absolute consolidation of Russian society and distracting the attention of internal problems were available through creating a particular enemy-image in the face of Ukrainians and their government (Kalashnik, 2014).
How the Causes Complete a Logical Chain
The above mentioned factors really make sense in organization of armed conflict, but let’s consider my model of the things happening in Donbass and create a another model, the so-called replay of actions and operations taking place at the very beginning of this war. To begin with, let us remember that the population of Ukraine is divided into two parties supporting the European Union and confronting this idea, there was a really good chance of using mass provocations, outrage, and lawlessness which actually took place while protesting on the Independence square. The government did not support the ideas of the folks, trying to forcedly strangle the will manifestation of the people. It led to the increased mistrust towards the authorities, the loss of a leader and their focused idea. The strong social and psychological impact was felt by the Russian annexation of the Crimea, and the powerful propaganda controlled media.
So let’s turn to the official consequences of the conflict stated by the Ukrainian government: fomenting the separatist sentiments in the masses. According to self-declared People’s Republics the causes are the changes in the government, the increased nationalism supported by oligarchic capital and not considering the interests of the South-East of Ukraine. What about the invading party, it still denies the communion in the war except sheltering refugees from Ukraine.
I believe the following version of events is rather plausible: the sponsored and fueled incitement and pro-Russian propaganda has managed to grow at the present armed action of terrorists with the capture and holding of office buildings, infrastructure, local law enforcement agencies and other key points due to the well-known fact that eastern citizens did not support the current government nor the new-elected President. Russian forces benefited from the political and ethnical situation in the country, and invaded Donbass to cut down a great piece of land just like they did in the situation of the Crimean peninsula. Instead of the conditional division of the country geographically along the river Dnieper, the Russian forces got not more than 10-15% of the total Ukrainian population. In Eastern Ukraine there are still lots of people who are interested in normal relations with Russia, but they had to leave their homes due to the danger caused by the armed conflict. Vladimir Putin, the President of the Russian Federation, plays the role of the protector and patron of the weak and resentful (in this case the Russian-speaking population of Ukraine), which appears to be a wise strategy in doing a war – to infringe armed forces into the country and at the same time proclaiming to protect the affected citizens.
Current Political and Social Situation in Ukraine
The interstate behavior and particularly that the country originated a typical oligarchic capitalism version, which was strongly manifested in the east, in the areas dominated by large industrial enterprises caused the social and economic tensions in the east of the country. This was usually to be more severe than in the west. Currently, Ukraine faces great political showdown regarding the distribution of power in non-invaded industrial regions (like Zaporozhe and Mykolaiv). A few oligarchs who are also involved in political activities, are actually “fighting” since they realize the possibility of annexing these regions by Russia just like it did with Crimea (among them there are such politicians and businessmen as Arsen Avakov, Igor Kolomoyskiy and Renat Ahmetov).
Although the majority of the population was able to distinguish reality from its advocacy interpretation, the propaganda still had partial success among that segment of the population that had already experienced difficulties in associating themselves with the Ukrainian national project. It is rather noticeable that the foreign aggression became a powerful rallying point motivating and enhancing the slow formation of the Ukrainian political nation. Probably, today about 85% - 90% of the population clearly recognizes themselves as Ukrainians, the citizens of Ukraine.
War in Donbass led to considerable destruction of civilian infrastructure and hundreds of thousands of refugees. The war surely caused a great move of people from the dangerous zone. Citizens leave their homes in order to save their lives because the soldiers of both sides spare neither old, nor children of women. According to IMF, the conflict in the east of Ukraine in 2014 caused the decrease in the national economy by 7-7.5%, about a quarter of the country's industry is gridlocked and the tenth part is destroyed. According to the UN reports on December 15, 2014 the conflict zone was home to 5.2 million people. The number of internally displaced persons is 542,080 people, and 567,956 were granted with homes in another country.
Relation to Other Wars and Similarities
The Donetsk expansion itself was a repeat of history, occurred in western Ukraine after World War II. The Soviet officers were sent to the western Ukraine from other republics to dissolve local nationalism and turn it into some other entity. This, in fact, was an attempt of occupation. Even so, the people from the western regions have brought so many sacrifices in the struggle for Independence.
There are other similar circumstances that have appeared, for instance, in 1992, at the beginning of the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict in the territory of Abkhazia where the from a half-million population of ethnic Abkhaz the region accounted about 20% of the population, while ethnic Georgians were about 45%. That's not counting for approximately 5 million people in other regions of Georgia. It would seem to have any chance to survive in the armed struggle with such a superior opponent, but nevertheless, the outcome of the war is well-known. In fact, this is not surprisingly, because the outcome of the armed conflict was not determined by the overall figures of the material, military, financial or other resources available with one or the other party, but by the ability of the parties to realize mobilization of the population for the sake of their goal.
Resolution to War
The resolution of this war is a super-complex task to be performed for all parties, and it requires a lot of resources, effort and patience. However, the resolution of the conflict in Ukraine is a challenge for the European diplomacy, which should take into account the interests of all the warring parties. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europa remains one of the most important tools, which must find an adequate response to the challenges of a model of democratic cohesion. The governments should also continue with diplomatic methods through international consultation, mediation, multilateral meetings and negotiations.
Avoidance of force or, at least, the maximum restraint in their use is the most reasonable way of resolution; however it is difficult in a situation with both series of provocations on one hand, and on the other hand a clear request for the use of force on the invasion part, when the restraint is tend to perceive as a weakness or betrayal. Therefore it is possible to formulate some guidelines that can avoid yielding the situation in the worst direction:
Priority of negotiations over the armed forces operations. The measures are meaningful only if they are carried out in cooperation with other external organizations. International and regional organizations, state and non-governmental organizations are joining forces to combat the spread of deadly conflict, in other words, all the stakeholders must adopt a strategic program based on a shared vision on conflict resolution. However, a variety of mandates, the respective spheres of activity, bureaucracy, national interests and conflicting views on conflict prevention and humanitarian work to limit effective multilateral action. The comprehensive conflict prevention is possible when all the parties to take into account the respective responsibilities, mandates and areas of competence of each party. Thus, the Russian Federation must be forced to sit at the negotiating table and fulfill the Minsk plan, since in spite of the protocol, the fighting in the east of Ukraine continued in the period of its validity. In mid-January 2015 parties to the conflict actually ceased to perform protocol items. All the negotiations must also provide guarantees of personal safety for participants in the consultations.
Priority of long-term, but less dangerous options (relatively speaking – a priority of blockade over the assault). The long-term missions and socio-political work in areas such as democracy, human rights and minority rights, promotion of civil society are more suited to regional and international organizations and NGOs will be a success. According to Tanner, in their turn, only a very few of these organizations can quickly and effectively respond to the unfolding crisis. Such a rapid response requires accurate and credible warning, especially when it comes to possible large-scale killings and attempted genocide (Tanner). Ukraine should also decentralize the state power in order to give the regions the right to self-regulation and disposal of the funds received from the taxes; adopt a program of economic recovery and restore livelihoods Donbass region since almost all the industry in the region are destroyed; take measures to improve the humanitarian situation in the Donbass. Since Ukraine has not implemented measures on improving the people’s lives on the occupied territories (The Crisis in South-East Ukraine, 2014).
Priority of defense over attack. Generally, if it is not possible to completely eliminate the use of force, it is desirable to minimize them and apply only in situations where there is a possibility of action against the armed extremist groups without risk to engage in confrontation local civilian population. The parts should agree on the establishment of humanitarian safety zones, which is closed to armed hostilities. Such zones have helped to prevent the escalation of violence and even in some cases to resolve the conflict. Both parties must immediately release of all the hostages and illegally detained persons.
It is important to overcome the illusion that the failure or the maximum limit of force is weakness. However, there must be provided a permanent and serious monitoring on Ukrainian-Russian border and the creation of a security zone in the border regions of Ukraine and the Russian Federation.
Taking measures to promote broad public dialogue with representatives of all political forces. The basis for such a dialogue, at the first stage can be a simple principle of non-violent methods of political struggle. This should be provided directly to the wider nongovernmental organizations and local NGOs in regions of potential crises, human rights groups, humanitarian organizations, organizations involved in the development, and organizations engaged in informal efforts to help prevent and resolve conflicts.
Another essential step is negotiations between the heads of the states – Vladimir Putin and Petro Poroshenko. They should negotiate with initiatives of the President of Ukraine, since it is in the interests of the Ukrainian citizens to stop violence and end casualties of civilians on the borders between Russia and Ukraine. The intermediary must be necessarily present during negotiations; it is also worth using Alexander Lukashenka, the President of Belarus, to be the witness of the agreements and steps taking by both parties.
The last but not the least important measure is to assure the Ukrainian people that the Russians are not their enemies at all, the violence against Ukraine has been provoked and not all the Russian citizens support the war and ideas of Putin. They should also be reminded about the early days of their existence when Ukraine and Russia used to live like blood brothers and the conflicts among them can be easily resolved due to easy understanding between the folks and common interests of people.
A.Kalashnik. “Ukrainian in Turmoil”. The Pfeiffer Falcon. Dec. 6, 2014.
F. Tanner. “Conflict prevention and conflict resolution: limits of multilateralism”. International Review of the Red Cross, No. 839.
THE CRISIS IN SOUTH-EAST UKRAINE: Executive Summary. (2014, October 15). Retrieved April 2, 2015, from http://russianunesco.ru/eng/article/1572