The Political Status of Uncontrolled Territories in Russia’s Foreign Policy Strategy: A Challenge to Ukrainian Atypical Diplomacy

Hryhorii Perepelytsia
Doctor of Political Science, Full Professor, Director of the Foreign Policy Research Institute, Full Professor of the Department of International Relations and Foreign Policy, Institute of International Relations, Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv
ORCID 0000-0003-4000-1334

DOI 10.37837/2707-7683-2020-38

Abstract. The article deals with the problem of resolving the Russian-Ukrainian conflict in Donbas, which in reality is a Russian-Ukrainian local war waged in its hybrid form. The author’s main focus is riveted on the analysis of ways to resolve this conflict chosen by the Ukrainian authorities, relying exclusively on peaceful political and diplomatic means. The article raises the question of the feasibility of the goal to end the war and restore Ukraine’s control over its state border, as promised by President V. Zelenskyy, in the exclusively peaceful political and diplomatic way on which he has embarked.
In considering the pursuit of ending the war by ‘resolving the internal conflict’, the author analyses similar cases of peacekeeping operations and concludes that such a path is futile. The main reason for this fiasco is the erroneous substitution of the concept of ‘internal conflict’ for ‘war’. Therefore, the priority is not the means of warfare but the means of conflict resolution. In this case, the occupied territories, which must be liberated in any war, are replaced by the term ‘uncontrolled territories’. Thus, the substantive content of this article is devoted to exploring the status of uncontrolled territories due to Russia’s usage of this status in the war against Ukraine in its bellicose foreign policy and the threat they pose to the territorial integrity and national security of Ukraine.
Taking stock of the negotiation processes and initiatives of the Ukrainian authorities within the Minsk and Normandy formats with regard to determining the status of the uncontrolled territories, it becomes obvious that ending the war with Russia in the format of resolving the internal conflict in Donbas by peaceful diplomatic means is impossible without reaching a compromise with the so-called DPR/LPR or ORDLO. Besides, such a compromise seems unattainable without recognising their legal personality – something the ‘Kozak-Yermak’ plan proposed to implement through their inclusion in the ‘Advisory Board’. In turn, the recognition of the legal personality of these uncontrolled territories will entail the determination of their special status with their subsequent incorporation in Ukraine’s Constitution. This will lead to the federalisation of the state system of Ukraine with further fatal consequences for its state sovereignty. It is possible to prevent such ramifications by choosing several alternative forecast scenarios for the further course of the interstate Russian-Ukrainian conflict set out in the final part of the article.
Keywords: uncontrolled territories, DPR/LPR, ORDLO, ‘Kozak-Yermak’ plan, Advisory Board, atypical diplomacy, interstate Russian-Ukrainian conflict.

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