Quo Vadis Ukraine?

The International Institute for Peace as part of the Platform for Dialogue and Conflict Resolution in Ukraine organized, together with the partner organizations, a Ukraine themed week in December. Therefore various experts were invited on the 11th December 2017 into the facilities of the IIP to figure out the Ukraine’s conflict status quo,  and based on the finding how the situation will evolve in the near future.           
Among the panelists were Vasily Astrov (Senior Researcher at Vienna Research Centre for International Economics), Dr. Hannes Swoboda (President of the IIP), Alexander Dubovy (National Defense Academy Vienna) and Oleksi Iakubin (National Technical University of Kiev).           
Oleksi Iakubin started the panel by examining the current political situation in the Ukraine by saying that the governmental coalition will probably stay in office until the end of the legislation even if they do not have the majority in the parliament. New Elections would be the alternative, but neither Petro Poroschenko as a president nor the People’s Front Party want to risk that. Also, the People’s Front has made attempts to replace the presidential system with a representative democracy. All political processes in the Ukraine, however, are still highly influenced by corruption and the power of the oligarchy. He mentions that the conflicts between the people in power and the various anti corruption offices will reach a new climax in 2018.      
Ukraine’s economy is marked by a huge recession in the year 2014 when Euromaidan took place and the armed conflict started and it will take years to recover from it even if we can observe small growth since two years. The economic trade sanctions, the Russian annexation of the Krim and the war are some of the reasons for the recession. Solely the Ukrainian exports into Russian territory decreased by 80%. Vasily Astrov said that it is too early to judge whether the free trade association with the European Union is a success or not.       
Alexander Dubowny takes the perspective of the Russian foreign policy towards the Ukraine and mentions the aims Russia’s administration will have in the near future. First, maintaining the relations to the government in Ukraine while simultaneously extending the relations towards the new Republics in the Donbass. Secondly, the Russian attempt to withdraw from the armed conflict in the Donbass without a loss of face. The conflict in the Donbass region is probably the most challenging in the post soviet territory. Not least because Russia denies being a conflict party, but unofficially supports the troops in the Donbass materially. Moreover there is no attempt of Russia to politically integrate the new republics in the Donbass, because of too high costs. Russia is also willing come to an accommodation with Kiev, if Kiev on his part is willing to fulfill all the content of the Minsk Protocols. 
Hannes Swoboda as the last speaker of the panel asked the question how the European Union should deal with a country, which is partly under occupation or is even suffering from annexation and on the other hand is not able to fulfill all the agreements with the EU like the fight against corruption. He says that all Russian activities on Ukrainian territory are supposed to leave a lingering crisis and therefore Swoboda thinks the planned UN Peace Mission can be a good option to put pressure on the Kreml. Furthermore he appeals to the European interest in having good relations to Russia rather than being stuck in a language of aggression and jeopardize Europe’s safety.