Summary: Stratfor provides a status report on the Ukraine civil war, a festering boil in the heart of Europe and spark that hawks on both sides are using to restart the cold war. These conflicts usually end in diplomacy; that point seems far away.
- Because of political considerations, Kiev will not fully submit to separatist and Russian demands for amnesty and “special status” powers in eastern Ukraine.
- Europe will encourage the Ukrainian government to be accommodating, but the United States will push for a hard-line approach.
- Russia will keep its options open and will not abandon the possibility of ramping up militant activity if Kiev and the West are uncooperative.
After a year of slow-burning conflict in eastern Ukraine, the relationship between Kiev and Moscow seems to finally be improving. Fighting on the ground has dissipated, there have been positive developments in talks over the past few weeks and both sides began to pull heavy weaponry back from the line of contact in early October. Moreover, Russia and Ukraine have agreed on a temporary natural gas deal and will begin direct negotiations on Kiev’s terms of repayment for a bond that matures in December. And in a major concession to Kiev and its Western backers, the separatist territories of Donetsk and Luhansk announced Oct. 6 that they would postpone local elections.
These developments signal progress toward ending the standoff between Russia and the West over Ukraine. However, a broader settlement will still be difficult to achieve and is unlikely to be reached before the end of the year.