“The Donbass conflict may be frozen”


June 22, 2015

Poroshenko’s Senior Advisor: “The Donbass conflict may be frozen”

Translated from Polish by J.Hawk

Vladimir Horbulin, an advisor to Poroshenko, believes that although freezing the Donbass conflict is undesirable and without future prospects, it may be that Ukraine will have to agree to such an outcome, as in the case of Transnistria.

The head of the presidential Strategic Studies Institute and the former secretary of the National Security and Defense Council  laid out five possible eastern Ukraine conflict resolution scenarios.

The first is that in the event of a large scale Russian invasion, Ukraine might prevail using guerrilla warfare. Horbulin believes that in this case Russia would be struck by very drastic Western sanctions, and moreover it is has limited financial and technological capabilities, plus its political system lacks resilience. Horbulin also notes that it would be the most heroic and casualty-demanding scenario for Ukraine, but also the least likely one.

The second scenario presupposes Ukraine gives up the Donbass and breaks off all relations with that occupied territory.

The third scenario calls for finding a separatist peace with Russia on terms favorable to it, in other words, recognizing Donbass autonomy, giving up Crimea, and ignoring the interests of Kiev’s western partners. In Horbulin’s view, this scenario would partially deprive the Ukrainian state of its independent foreign policy and tie Ukraine’s future to that of Russia. “This scenario is historically suicidal and politically senseless”, believes Poroshenko’s advisor.

The fourth scenario entails freezing the conflict along the lines of Transnistria, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia, which favors Russia. Although this variant makes it possible to immediately end the fighting on the Donbass, it is unfavorable to Ukraine because in the long term it will be an unattractive state in a state of permanent crisis, suffering from illegal humanitarian aid trade, arms and drug trafficking on a massive scale, and the presence of thousands of UN peacekeepers on the line of demarcation.

Although that scenario is undesirable and does not offer a path to the final resolution, Ukraine might be forced to accept it under the pressure of internal and external circumstances. What’s more, nobody knows how long that state might last and what it would ultimately lead to.

The fifth variant presupposes a state of limited war and continuous negotiations in order to achieve the best results with lowest losses, although that path, in Horbulin’s view, demands a great deal of time, skill, and patience.

J.Hawk’s Comment: I think it’s relatively obvious the first scenario is not going to happen, no matter how much the Strelkovs and Colonel_Cassads (or, for that matter, Horbulins) of this world want to see it. Simply because the end objective, Horbulin’s scenario number 3, will drop into Russia’s lap due to the “pressure of internal and external circumstances.” Without excessive bloodshed and plunging Russia into another Cold War, not to mention causing major changes to Russia’s political system (which is Strelkov’s ultimate objective).

Horbulin is clearly a die-hard, given his view on the “historically suicidal” third scenario. However, given that he’s already giving up on scenario 5 in favor of scenario 4 (however reluctantly), means that the distance to scenario 3 has grown that much shorter.

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