On Wednesday 22 January 2015, CEPI hosted briefing with its Associate Fellow Jana Kobzová, who also works at the European Endowment for Democracy to discuss the current situation and prospects for Ukraine in 2015 as well as a larger context of the EU’s and Russia’s stance on Ukraine.
Jana Kobzová outlined her views on the development of the conflict in eastern Ukraine. In her view, we should not expect that the conflict will be ‘frozen’ anytime soon: according to her, this is not in the interests of neither the separatists nor the Kremlin. According to Kobzová, as shown by the example of Transnistria and Moldova, this scenario would not be enough to stop Ukraine should it decide to embark on a European path and serious steps in this direction. On the other hand, the possibility of an open invasion of the rest of the Ukrainian territory is probably not immediate – according to Kobzová, it could have happened already on a number of occasions and did not.
It might well be that the ongoing destabilizing low-intense conflict will continue throughout 2015 with occasional escalation. She stressed that Russia was playing for time, expecting that the Ukrainian government might sue for peace if economic and security situation continues to deteriorate and public discontent grows.
While the Ukraine government repeats its commitments to reforms, little has taken place for now. This is partly because the war in eastern Ukraine takes a great deal of political attention and resources but also because the old ‘system’ (based on corruption and political patronage) is not being addressed heads-on. Some don’t see it as a priority, others fight against it. In this context, the EU’s approach is critical. The EU needs to learn to read the Ukrainian situation better and condition its assistance to Kyiv by concrete progress on reforms. Without these, the risk of last year’s revolutionary events and further deterioration of the situation can grow further.