The resumption «Minsk format» shows definite progress in the conflict resolving, but Russia imposes its position on Ukraine, which is beneficial to neither the country nor Europe. What are the forecasted consequences of a «special status» granting to the certain districts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions as well as of local elections in these territories for Ukraine, Europe and Russia? Promote Ukraine learned the opinion of experts.

Olexander Kondratenko

Olexander Kondratenko, political technologist, reputation management specialist

The main danger of a special status granting to Donbas lies in enshrining this fact in the Constitution, which leads to the beginning of the country federalization. This, in turn, will trigger the mechanism of Ukraine destruction as an integral state.

If the President agrees to grant the occupied Ukrainian territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions a special status forever, this rule acceptance will legalize the special status of the LPR and DPR within Ukraine and will threaten it’s territorial integrity and unitarity which is enshrined in the Constitution. As a result, this will cause some movements in the Western part of Ukraine in the upcoming months.

We should not forget that any Kremlin «peacekeeping» initiatives are just well-constructed strategic guidelines. And if ORDLO gets an autonomous status, Ukraine’s movement to the EU and NATO could be forgotten. The pseudo-republics legitimization, dual citizenship, the language law, and other initiatives are the links within the Kremlin’s scenario.

By the Russian occupation administrations legalization, Ukraine will gain no control, but the collaborators’ parties strengthening through informal communication channels under a political settlement process guise.

As for our Western partners, the President of France does not hide his pro-Russian rhetoric openly, while Germany is ready to restore economic cooperation with Russia. With the coming of new reformers to power in Ukraine, the state’s position in the international arena gets weaker. Pressing the Ukrainian leaders to make concessions became much easier now than influencing Russia with more sophisticated methods.

Victor Filatov

Victor Filatov, analyst of the NGO «Human Rights Group» SICH»

The «Minsk format» resumption shows definite progress in the conflict resolving, but Russia imposes its position on us, which is not beneficial to either Ukraine or Europe. We are talking about an indefinite special status granting to the certain districts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. This means not only amnesty for the militants and the self-proclaimed republics ideologues but also a quite significant power autonomy, which threatens essentially the state’s territorial integrity.

The relevant law has been extended for 2020 today. If a political decision to grant a special status is taken indeed, it will have significant consequences, in particular, the conflict freezing, which is not beneficial for Ukraine. The state is interested in its full settlement and further sustainable development, as any frozen conflict can flare up again at any time.

Separatism will also be a dangerous example for other regions which share a border with Russia. First of all, this applies to Kharkiv, Odesa, Mykolaiv and Kherson regions, which had violent separatist mood since the conflict very beginning.

Subject to a special status, Ukraine will bear the burden of restoring the occupied territories without having a full-fledged influence on political and social processes. The special status presumes a rather significant separation of Donbas certain districts, which is accompanied by power autonomy. Although it has been declared formally that Ukrainian laws would be applied in these territories, the authorities will not be able to influence the decisions of the self-proclaimed republics to the full extent.

Ukraine’s membership in the EU will also be under challenge because Europe will not want to have a partner who has de facto legalized terrorist groups. According to the international experience, countries which apply for the EU’s membership have to meet a clear list of requirements, including ones in the security sector. The key threat here is the possibility for former L-DPR militants which would have been amnestied by Ukraine to enter the EU and perform certain tasks on the territory of the European Union on the Russian Federation’s instructions for the situation destabilization.

If a separate status is granted, Russia can count on the lifting of the sanctions, and will further destabilize the situation in Ukraine through its puppets in the Donbas. At the same time, the aggressor state will continue to play the card of «civil conflict» and the Russian-speaking population rights violation.

As for Europe, it will be forced to strengthen security measures at its borders, which could cause the visa-free regime abolition or restriction. Ukraine may also suffer significant reputation losses, as it de facto acknowledges that there has been discrimination of Donbas local population. At the same time, the social conflict between the population of Donbas and the controlled territories may significantly intensify.

The right to hold local elections threatens to legalize war criminals, terrorists and separatists who have been cultivating hatred among the local population for everything Ukrainian for six years. Now, these people can come to power and influence lawmaking in Ukraine, participate in budget planning and policymaking. It is not difficult to predict what the ideas they would lobby on the instructions of the Kremlin.

Given such potential risks, one should consider whether Ukraine should agree to a special status. We must strive for the ultimate peace that is possible under two key conditions. Firstly, to punish those who are guilty of war crimes with a fair trial and security guarantees. Secondly, to do our best to prevent a recurrence of armed conflict in the future. With this purpose, the security sector reform should be implemented. Under such conditions, Ukraine will have all chances to embark on the path of sustainable development and EU membership.

Dmytro Sinchenko

Dmytro Sinchenko, Chairman of the Political Sciences Association 

For Ukraine, a special status giving to the so-called ORDLO will have very negative consequences. First of all, it means the legalization of the Russian occupation authorities’ and collaborators’ status. After all, they will be able to win local elections and form the so-called «People’s army». None of the legal Ukrainian political parties in the occupied part of Donbas will be able to defeat the Kremlin-backed political forces if elections are held without the Russian troops’ withdrawal as well as without trials of collaborators, terrorists and war criminals of the «DPR-LPR», without blocking the Russian propaganda channels and long-term information work with the population.

State the case another way, if elections are held today in the occupied territories without fulfilling all the above-mentioned, the media, organizational and financial resources will be retained by the so-called «DPR-LPR» representatives. Consequently, they will be able to win democratic elections even without fraud and under the election legislation formal fulfilment. And it does not matter whether they go to the polls as the representative of a local pro-Russian party or the legal Ukrainian parties that are active in Ukraine, such as OPZZH or Sharia’s party, the result will be the same.

Russian terrorists and collaborators legalization as «people’s army» will release them of responsibility for killing and torturing Ukrainians, while lifting travel restrictions will give them access to the rest of Ukrainian «peaceful» territories. In the future, this could lead to a significant increase in crime, especially murders and robberies, throughout Ukraine.

Giving a special status to one territory will inevitably lead to the intensification of separatist views in other regions, which will get an example to follow. Such sentiments will be fueled by Russian security services through relevant organizations funding and information sabotage. At the end of the day, this could result in a «parade of sovereignties» and a new «Russian spring.»

In the future, such «reintegration» will allow pro-Russian forces to block Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic integration and turn our it’s foreign policy toward Russia.

Natalia Tolub

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