PGI Insight - Ukraine: Conflict to continue amid limited progress in peace talks


19 Dec 2019

PGI Insight - Ukraine: Conflict to continue amid l...

 

  • Talks between Kyiv and Moscow in Paris on 9 December failed to make significant progress over the Ukrainian separatist conflict.
  • Differing strategic objectives, domestic opposition to perceived Russian influence in Ukraine and disputes over elections and border control make a peace deal unlikely in the near term.
  • Domestic pressures on the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky reduce the chances of Ukrainian concessions on these issues, while Russia also remains unlikely to back down.
  • Conflict will continue in the near term with short-lived ceasefires failing to halt the fighting. A summit planned for Berlin in April will be the next indicator of any change in the prospect of a successful peace accord.

Background

The first meeting between Ukrainian and Russian leaders for three years took place in Paris on 9 December attempting to end a protracted conflict in the disputed Donbass region. The level of conflict between Russian-backed separatists and government forces in eastern Ukraine has developed little since 2016.

A negotiated solution appears unlikely to end the conflict. Despite some agreements, including a ceasefire and prisoner swap, progress in the latest talks has been largely symbolic and does not indicate a meaningful transition towards a firm agreement. Prisoner swaps and temporary removal of frontline forces have been negotiated before. Since 2014, over 20 ceasefires have been signed. Any negotiated solution between Ukraine and Russia over Donbass is unlikely amid differing strategic objectives, domestic opposition to Moscow’s influence in Ukraine and disputes over elections and borders.

Barriers to peace agreement

Differing objectives

Moscow and Kyiv have irreconcilable visions for the future of eastern Ukraine. The strategy of Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to be to use Donbass to exert greater influence over Kyiv. Moscow wants to gain concessions from Ukraine that would turn Donetsk and Luhansk into semi-autonomous people’s republics, giving them veto powers in Kyiv. This could allow Russia long-term leverage over Ukraine’s Western-focused foreign policy and affect integration with the European Union. Such an agreement would be unacceptable to Ukraine, amid hostility to Russian influence.

President Zelensky is seeking to re-establish Ukrainian control over the border between eastern areas of the Donbass region and Russia and to achieve a demobilisation of separatist forces, both of which are unacceptable to Russia. Domestically, Putin has presented the conflict as protecting a Russian diaspora beyond its borders and will not back down on a conflict Russia is so invested in.

Domestic opposition

Zelensky is unlikely to offer significant concessions, due to strong domestic opposition to Russian influence. The 2015 Minsk Accord and subsequent agreements have been largely unpopular. Tens of thousands of protesters marched in Kyiv in October 2019 to denounce the signing of a framework agreement, causing Zelensky to backtrack. Similar protests occurred before the Paris summit. Given that Zelensky’s favourability rating has slipped from 73 to 52 percent between September and November, he will be even less likely to concede to Moscow in the near future.

Dispute over elections

A dispute over how elections will be held presents a major challenge to the success of a peace agreement. Both sides agree that elections in Donetsk and Luhansk are a crucial way towards deciding the political future of the Donbass region, but Russia wants these to occur under OSCE oversight under separatist control. Ukraine opposes elections under such conditions, fearing Russian interference. Similarly, Russia steadfastly opposes holding elections under Ukrainian law.

Control of borders

Ukraine seeks the return of control to its borders, but Russia will not cede on this issue. Separatist forces control entry points into the Donbass region from Ukraine and from Russia allowing them to closely monitor the movement of people in eastern Ukraine. Significant disagreements exist over demarcating the future Ukraine-Russian border and potentially those of an autonomous Donetsk and Luhansk, meaning the reinstatement of Ukrainian controlled borders is unlikely.

Outlook

There is a diminishing prospect of progress in peace talks. Zelensky is increasingly unlikely to compromise amid concerns over domestic opinion. Russia appears to be entrenching its own position, offering passports to 125,000 Donbass residents moving it further away from Ukrainian integration. A planned summit in Berlin in April 2020 will provide another indication of the likelihood of progress. Only similar small gains are likely to be made, with no substantial movement towards a prolonged peace arrangement.

International powers are unlikely to exert successful influence on the peace talks. Western States will attempt to influence talks to further their own agendas, but none of these are likely to solve the conflict. Washington is unlikely to offer Ukraine much assistance as US President Trump faces impeachment proceedings linked to interactions with Zelensky. French President Emmanuel Macron has been a proponent of opening dialogue with Putin. It is possible that Macron might push Ukraine towards an unfavourable deal with Russia if it means further rapprochement with Putin.

As a negotiated settlement remains distinctly remote, cycles of escalating conflict around tenuous ceasefires will continue until a more concrete solution is found. The latest ceasefire is unlikely to hold until the proposed Berlin summit in April. Immediate reports from the Ukrainian Defence Ministry suggest the Paris brokered ceasefire has not been implemented and fighting is continuing at similar levels to before the summit.

PGI’s Intelligence specialists provide business intelligence and geopolitical risk analysis to multinational corporations and governments worldwide. For more information on how they can assist your organisation, please contact us: riskanalysis@pgitl.com

Share this article

RISK PORTAL

Your free global geopolitical
risk dashboard

PGI’s Risk Portal tool provides daily intelligence feeds, country threat assessments and analytical insights, enabling clients to track, understand and navigate geopolitical threats.

The Risk Portal gives users up-to-date information and analysis on global affairs.

The Risk Portal allows users to visualise information in a unique and instantly understandable way. Mapping filters enable the visualisation of incidents by threat category, time period, perpetrator and target type.

Risk Portal users can upgrade their accounts to include the Report Builder and Country Profile Generator features. The Report Builder allows users to select information, data and images from the Risk Portal and create bespoke reports and emails.

Subscribers to PGI’s Bespoke services receive tailored analysis on specific sectors and geographies of interest, delivered at a frequency they determine.

Visit the Risk Portal

GDPR Services

Making ongoing compliance easier for you and your business

GDPR is now in force. Make sure your business meets the necessary requirements, providing assurance for all of your customers and employees.

PGI GDPR Services

A full audit of your business to assess the level of your compliance against GDPR requirements.

Become GDPR compliant with minimal work. We will conduct an analysis, review, report and implement any necessary changes to your business.

We will conduct simple security assessments to help you understand and mitigate the potential risks to your business.

Find out more on GDPR

Compliance Services

Get your business ready to face the cyber challenge.

We provide a full range of accredited, certified and bespoke services that assess the resilience of your cyber security posture.

PGI GDPR Services

PGI’s Qualified Security Assessors (QSA) will help you meet Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS).

Find out more on PCI DSS

Demonstrate your commitment to cyber security by achieving and maintaining accreditation for the globally-recognised information security standard.

Find out more on ISO 27001

Expert assistance on the implementation and maintenance of governance requirements for personal data.

Find out more on GDPR

Find out more on Compliance

Vulnerability Testing

Understand the threats of phishing and malware to avoid being targeted.

Undertake our phishing vulnerability assessment to reduce your organisation’s risk of attack, by measuring the cyber awareness of your workforce.

Malware & Phishing Services

PGI will conduct a tailored phishing campaign, using multiple methods, to identify realism and train employees where necessary to mitigate future attacks.

PGI monitor multiple metrics to identify the types of phishing, generate in-depth analytical reports and provide an informed decision to help improve your organisation’s level of security and awareness.

Find out more on Vulnerability Testing

Cyber Security

Prevent attacks, respond to breaches and protect your business.

Our bespoke range of cyber security services not only protect your critical assets but provide the education you need to keep your operations and data safe.

Cyber Security Services

Implement this cost-effective cyber security measure launched by the government to prevent cyber-attacks, demonstrate information security commitment to your clients, and attract new business by being recognised as a secure organisation.

Find out more on Cyber Essentials Accreditation

The most effective way to identify how attackers target your organisation’s weaknesses is by evaluating your system, your network security, and reporting on any vulnerabilities that could have an impact on your business.

Find out more on Penetration Testing

If your business has experienced breaches, network compromises or operational disruption, our team of cyber security specialists can deploy quickly, and will begin the process of detecting and eliminating the threat efficiently.

Find out more on Data Breach Response & Recovery

In the event of a computer security investigation, a vital part of the response process is making a copy of your data for safe forensic analysis. We will work with you to preserve and use this evidence to discover the extent of an intrusion.

Find out more on Digital Forensics

Browse our Cyber Security services

Data Breach Response & Recovery

We prevent attacks, respond to security breaches, and protect your business

Our team of specialists can deploy quickly and efficiently to begin the process of detecting, eliminating and preventing future threats of a breach.

Malware & Phishing Services

A vital part of the response process is making a copy of your data for safe forensic analysis. We will work with you to preserve and use this evidence to discover the extent of an intrusion.

Find out more on Digital Forensics

We will identify and minimise the risks, as well as the possibility of future risks to your business.

Consistent interaction with your management team and recommendations on how to approach all outcomes that need attention.

Find out more on Data Breaches

Subscribe to our Cyber Bytes Newsletter

Keep yourself in the loop with PGI by signing up to our Monthly Cyber Bytes email. You will receive updates, tips and narrative around what has been happening in the world of information security.

Get in touch today

For more information on how we can help you or your business, please contact us via:

Related News

International Womens Day - Pioneering Women in Tec...

08 Mar 2017

Pioneering Women in Technology – Katherine JohnsonThe Oscar season has been and gone. The...

Read news article

Law Firms and why they need cyber security

07 Sep 2018

Why Law Firms need Cyber Security. Suffering a data breach can be devastating! From the experts at P...

Read news article

Content from the expert - GDPR and Cyber Governanc...

12 Jul 2017

Will there be a knock on effect regarding the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) after the UK...

Read news article
Back to the News Hub

+44 (0)207 887 2699
©2019 PGI - Protection Group International Ltd. All rights reserved.
PGI - Protection Group International Ltd is registered in England & Wales, reg. no. 07967865
Address: Unit 13/14, Swallow Court, Sampford Peverell, Tiverton, England, EX16 7EJ