The conflict in Donbas, a region in eastern Ukraine that takes its name from the Don River coal basin, is possibly the most difficult diplomatic issue for Russia. Compared to other foreign policy issues, it has been more costly as well as more complicated. At the moment, no exit strategy seems evident, even if increasingly desirable.
The deadlocked conflict between Russia and Ukraine remains, as of Spring 2017, the most direct challenge to security in Europe and the most powerful driver of the confrontation between Russia and the West. This confrontation is significantly different from the essentially static posture of the Cold War, from the late 1940s to the late 1970s, and it is the unique nature of the Russia-Ukraine conflict that determines many of the differences.
Due to the Ukrainian crisis, relations between the EU and Russia hit rock bottom, the lowest point from the end of the Cold War. Indeed, it is crystal clear that today’s dispute is nothing but the latest chapter of a long story of misunderstandings and conflicting strategies on the post -Soviet states of Eastern Europe and South Caucasus. The further deepening of this cleavage would inflict serious damage on all interested parties: the EU, Russia and several post-Soviet states. Why is Ukraine so important both for EU and Russia? What are the real origins of the current crisis that brought to an open confrontation between Russia and the EU? What is the rationale behind Russia’s firm opposition to a further NATO enlargement? What are the viable options to escape the fate of a new ‘Cold War’?
One year after the annexation – or reunification, depending on the point of view – of Crimea, Russian mass media is doing its best to keep up the degree of patriotism – or nationalism, again according to the point of view – within the population.
Germany has had to rethink its relations with its European partners twice in four years: in 2010, when the sovereign debt crisis hit the euro area - and following the winter of 2013/14, when Ukraine's westward course triggered a conflict with Russia.
The recent visit of the Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to Crimea showed everyone that Russia will remain firm on its positions, but the fact that it was the “younger” member of the tandem to go to the newly acquired “historically Russian” lands seems to leave space for negotiations.
The deal struck last Friday by the leaders of the so-called Independent Square protest and the President Viktor Yanukovich may prove a major progress in the Ukrainian crisis. The agreement has put an end to the violent clashes with the police that in the previous days had reportedly caused more than a hundred dead in Kiev and across the country, pushing back the prospect of a potentially devastating civil war.