On March 6, 2019, Collegium Anna Yaroslavna East participated in the discussion “Reintegration Strategy” Open Donbass “project at the Regional Academic Business Skills Training Center “Priazovya”.
Representatives of universities and public organizations – residents of Mariupol and internally displaced persons: Olena Bondarenko, Irina Garshchenko, Victoria Gordienko, Galina Krapivina, Olena Kurovska, Olga Lyubchuk, Dmytro Lyashov, Alexander Magdalitz, Lilia Malitskaya, Irina Marchenko, Dmytro Paskal, Tatyana Titima, Roman Tolpezhnikov, Alexander Topoli, Elizabeth Tokman, Irina Khomyuk, Elizabeth Shram, Lilia Shcherbakova and Dmitry Yaremenko discussed this theme.
The research was presented by the analysts of CAY East, young German scholars Felix Dhola and Jan Bever (The University of Ludwig-Maximilian, Munich).
The discussion on research led the authors to radically revise their proposal and continue to concentrate on a few deeper issues that seriously complicate the lives of people in the eastern part of Ukraine and require an early resolution.
For discussion the analysis of alternatives for cessation of hostilities and the strategy of reintegration “Open Donbass” were presented. CAY’s analysts have presented their analysis of alternatives to cessation of hostilities and reintegration, none of which can produce the desired result:
The UN mission can not be created without the approval of the RF. Even if the mission had been established, the world experience of using the UN peacekeeping forces was not successful.
The military solution with the current balance of forces and capabilities of the Armed Forces and the armed forces of the Russian Federation is impossible.
The wall fencing option will not work as well, as it will require significant investments, turn away sympathizers from Ukraine in the occupied territories and can not stop Russia’s full-scale invasion.
The “Open Donbass” strategy suggested not spending time and preparing the occupied territories for reintegration into three stages.
The first stage is to start a more open economic and informational policy regarding the people of ORDL now, that is, to solve the issue of Russia’s geopolitical pressure.
The second stage involves preparation for the return of control over the territories, in particular, the definition of the working conditions of Ukrainian banks and the return of the hryvnia as the main currency of the occupied territories.
The third stage is the return of Ukraine’s control over the occupied territories and the state border with the Russian Federation. Its key element is the work of specialists in geospatial data for the inventory, classification and evaluation of the resources of the liberated territories.
During the discussion there were two key positions:
Residents of Mariupol favor the development of their city and front-line territories. This strategy involves creating a higher quality of life in the territories that control Ukraine. Different estimates of pensions for ORDL residents were made, as they actually receive a double payment – the Ukrainian pension and the payments of Russia. Mariupol citizens expressed the opinion that the state does not provide enough assistance to Mariupol and settlements of the front-line zone. They support a stronger economic blockade and reject any negotiation opportunities with the administrations of the occupied territories.
Internally displaced persons are not inclined to demonize the population of the occupied territories. They argue that there are quite a lot of people who want to return to Ukraine, but are afraid to express their position. Olga Lyubchuk expressed the opinion that in the first place it is necessary to think about the return of people, and then the territories. People are important, you need to remember them, support them to win their hearts and minds. The main link that keeps the inhabitants of the occupied territories with Ukraine remains family and friends – they are the main hope of reintegration.
Participants in the discussion took a different view of the cessation of the economic and information blockade of the occupied territories: from the consent of the representatives of internally displaced persons to the refusal of the inhabitants of Mariupol. However, all agreed that the international community should increase pressure on Russia, which position is the largest destabilizing factor in the region.
Experts from Donetsk reminded of the environmental threats that conflict. The most urgent problem is the flooding of the mine “Yunkom”, where in 1979 a nuclear explosion was carried out. The cessation of water pours by militants may lead to the release of radioactive materials to the rivers of the region, and then to the Azov and Black Seas. In the occupied territories there is also a problem with water quality that can be solved.
The participants of the seminar agreed on further discussion in the form of a videoconference, which will be held after the authors have made adjustments and additions to the strategy.