Guest Lecture on conflict in Ukraine und re-integration perspectives of the DPR and LPR
How can institutions in Ukraine be strengthened in their effectiveness and legitimacy in order to mitigate conflict escalation and impel peace? How can the self-declared Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DNR and LNR) be effectively reintegrated into Ukraine taking into consideration more than six years of violent conflict and a range of local political, social, and economic transformations, all of which have deeply impacted relations between Kyiv and Moscow? There is a consensus among academics on the
existence of local grievances before 2014 (and on the ambitions of the Donbas elites), which were then exacerbated by the Euromaidan polarization and Russia’s annexation of Crimea and support for secession in Donbas. However, there is a major divergence in opinion regarding the impact of local grievances on conflict escalation: whether local grievances a) constituted the driving force for the conflict or b) whether the conflict was artificially designed, escalated, and supported by an external actor among regions and
communities that did not have disputes (ethnic or religious) strong enough to drive a separatist project. Regardless of the nature of the conflict in eastern Ukraine as it was in 2014, I argue here that domestic drivers for conflict have been increasing with the entrenchment of the DNR/LNR situation and its isolation by the Ukrainian government. Greed-related domestic factors include changes in socio-economic structures, the establishment of warlord political regimes in DNR/LNR, and the rent-seeking behavior
of the elites—whereas grievance-related factors are associated with the wartime experience of the local population, their isolation, and Kyiv’s general policy of discrimination toward Donetsk and Luhansk residents. All these elements triggered the consolidation of the local identity of the “peoples of Donbas.” While it is too early to make any conclusions about the sustainability of endogenous conflict potential in the region, any scenario of reintegrating DNR/LNR with Ukraine has to consider their changing political and socio-economic landscapes.
Dr. Tetiana Maliarenko is a Professor of International Security and Jean Monnet Professor of European Security at the National University Odesa Law Academy, Ukraine, and Non-resident Fellow at the Uppsala
Institute for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Sweden. She is the founder and director of the Ukrainian Institute for Crisis Management and Conflict Resolution, a Ukrainian think tank aiming to promote
interdisciplinary research, research-led teaching, and evidence-based advice for policy-makers on crisis management and conflict resolution in Ukraine and beyond. Her main research areas include the societal
and economic aspects of security in states in transition, human security and good governance, and social conflicts and civil wars. She was previously the recipient of a Fulbright-Kennan Institute
Research Grant, “In Search of Peace: Improving Conflict Prevention and Response Policies,” October 2013–February 2014. In the winter semester 2020/21 she will be a guest lecturer for Ukraine at the University of Giessen.