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Intercultural
Lexicon

Secularisation and Post-Secularisation

“Secularisation” means the process that has above all characterised western countries during the contemporary era and led to the progressive abandonment of religious rules and sacral kinds of behaviour..

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Ethno-psychiatry-Ethno-psychology

Ethno-psychiatry and ethno-psychology experiment the paths to be followed so as to address the cultural differences within the disciplinary wisdom and practices (western) of psychiatry and psychology.

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Civil Society

From the mid-1980s to the present, civil society has been a key category of democratic politics, increasingly in a genuinely international setting.

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Ethnocentrism

While empathy breaks down the barriers of borders, ethnocentrism – the supposed superiority of one’s own cultural world – is addressed at strengthening them, and if possible, at raising new ones.

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Islamism

Islamism is a highly militant mobilizing ideology selectively developed out of Islam’s scriptures, texts, legends, historical precedents, organizational experiences and present-day grievances, all as a defensive reaction against the long-term erosion of Islam’s primacy over the public...

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Reset
A month of ideas.
Giancarlo Bosetti Editor-in-chief
Association for dialogue and intercultural understanding
Europe
Monday, 30 November -1

The Uncertain Future of Donbass,
The Endless War of Ukraine

Giovanna De Maio

When the world is on the brink of a nuclear war, the Donbass struggle goes unnoticed. That being said, the conflict is not frozen: OSCE reports denounce continuous human rights violations, arms trafficking, and the murdering of civilians. The Minsk process is at a stalemate: Kiev’s government is not capable – or not willing – to proceed with the federalization of the country.


Moscow does not guarantee – or is unable to do so – the tenure of the ceasefire and to keep the separatists in control. In such a frustrating situation it is legitimate to wonder, at least for Kiev’s government, to what extent it is worth fighting for the Donbass.

A total disaster

Before the outbreak of the hostilities, the Donbass region was the industrial heart of Ukraine and accounted for 20% of the GDP of the country. Moreover, many industrial military plants were located in this region, whose trade relations with Moscow were incredibly tense. Many of these factories have since been torn down following the clashes between the separatists and the government’s forces. The damages to infrastructure are estimated around $251 million (UNIAN data) and over a million miles of roads were destroyed. According to the economist Andres Aslund, the current costs for the reconstruction of Donbass region are around $20 million, an extremely high figure if considering that Ukraine’s total budget is $26 million.
A political matter

According to a recent poll from the Razumkov Center for Sociological Research, the attitude of Ukraine’s citizens towards the situation in Donbass reveals that more than 50% oppose the idea of granting Donetsk and Lugansk a special status, but frustration is growing. Polls on the Ukrainian President’s approval rating show that more than 73% Ukrainians does not trust sitting President Poroshenko.

Nevertheless, defending the territorial integrity is a matter of international legitimacy for Ukraine. Poroshenko used this leitmotif in every international summit he attended. If Kiev wants to remove itself from the Russian orbit, it necessary to show that it has the power to defend its own territory.

The Ukrainians from Donbass are exhausted and feel abandoned by Kiev’s government that is incapable of taking back the occupied territories. Many of them have chosen to escape and have moved to other regions in Ukraine; in August 2015, the number of internally displaced citizens in the country reached 1.5 million.

The paradox of the status quo   

Considering its unstable financial situation, even in the event Kiev did regain control of Donbass, it would be almost impossible to cope with the reconstruction of the area. Paradoxically speaking, the current status quo in Donbass has become the best option for Ukraine. Implementing Minsk II via constitutional reforms aimed at the federalization of the country would literally mean losing autonomy and the destroy any European aspirations.

What if Ukraine let Donbass go?

In such a scenario, Kiev would not need to bear the costs of reconstruction. Russia is currently ensuring basic living conditions in Donbass through paying pensions (almost $40 million) and other social programs with government and military expenses; meanwhile, Gazprom and InterRao are distributing gas and electricity for free.

If Kiev renounced these territories, Moscow would find itself in the corner. It would look very inconsistent if Russia abandoned a territory where it claimed to intervene based on an alleged “responsibility to protect,” where it set up an unrivalled propaganda machine, and where many soldiers lost their lives.

Furthermore, Kiev’s government would not be dealing with the political and social problems of this region. Even though most of the Donbass population did not support the separatists, it is also true that for long time people lamented bad relations with the central government. They also opposed the Association Agreement with the EU because they feared that opening the market would have been lethal for their local business, which in reality are quite outdated and inefficient.

At the same time, the separatists’ leaders are difficult to keep under control, even by Moscow. Fights between the separatists’ battalions are very frequent and there have been several strategic killings of the most influential fighters. The Donbass oligarchs have established strong connections in local politics and will likely complicate the stabilization process and attempt to gain more profitable conditions for their business.

Ukraine needs an efficient strategy for Donbass, especially now that the lights of the world are pointed on more “urgent” matters like North Korean nuclear plants, global terrorism, the Syrian conflict, and Brexit.

Whatever Kiev’s choice will be, it is inevitably necessary to establish which of these factors is more important: territorial integrity or independence. 

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