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Ukrainian Crisis Must Not Become a Frozen Conflict

November 17, 2014 in Economics

By Emma Ashford

Emma Ashford

The Ukrainian crisis appears increasingly intractable. Despite successful Ukrainian national elections in late October, illegal separatist elections held a few days later have undermined the fragile peace plan, leaving the region effectively in limbo. As a result, many argue that eastern Ukraine is on its way to becoming a frozen conflict, joining the ranks of other post-Soviet crises in which no political solution could be achieved. But letting the Ukrainian violence fester is a terrible solution, increasing the long-term risk of confrontation between Russia and the West. It may be tempting for leaders to simply denounce Russian President Vladimir Putin at this weekend’s G-20 summit. But if they don’t want the Ukraine crisis to linger for years to come, they must instead look for a political solution that formally ends hostilities.

Despite the nominal cease-fire, fighting near Donetsk has intensified in the last week, with increased shelling by both sides. More worrying, sources in Ukraine and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe report that large convoys of heavy weapons and armor, including tanks, have been seen crossing into eastern Ukraine from Russia. There is concern that the rebels intend to make a major push in the coming days, perhaps to seize the port city of Mariupol. The White House has expressed grave concern about the situation, and NATO Commander Gen. Phillip Breedlove told journalists that he considers the situation a cease-fire “in name only.”

This buildup might seem at odds with recent descriptions of the conflict as entering a frozen phase. But frozen conflicts often include periods of high tension and hostilities. The uncertainty created by the lack of any peace treaty often increases tensions, making future hostilities more likely. Other post-Soviet frozen conflicts have experienced similar swings. Strife in the Georgian separatist enclaves of South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Adjara, for example, were frozen for a decade or more but saw frequent skirmishes, major insurgencies (in 1998 and 2004) and, ultimately, the 2008 Russia-Georgia war. The ambiguity created when a conflict freezes means that key differences are never resolved, creating the ever-present threat of renewed hostilities.

US, EU and Russian leaders must find political resolution soon or face ever-present threat of renewed hostilities.”

Allowing the Ukraine crisis to solidify into a frozen conflict, then, effectively guarantees future clashes in the region. It leaves the government in Kiev with a long-term insurgency within its borders, <a target=_blank href="http://news.yahoo.com/ukraines-currency-plunges-ceasefire-fears-grow-184907319.html" …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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