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Russo-Ukraine War - 2020

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy secured a ceasefire and an expanded no-contact zone at the Normandy Four meeting in December. In 2020, there is a possibility that some sort of peace deal could be reached with Russia. Remaining issues include timing of when control of the border be returned to Kyiv (Zelenskiy: before elections in Donbas; Putin: after elections), changes to the Ukrainian constitution (special status granted to Donbas); an amnesty for everyone involved in the conflict; and the details of the Steinmeier Formula, the mechanism to deescalate the fighting.

The resumption of the Normandy Four talks, the disengagement of forces in Stanitsa Luganskaya, Zolotoye and Petrovskoye, and a prisoner swap are all Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelenskys first steps towards resolving the Donbass conflict. According to experts interviewed by Izvestia, this offers specifics to look into 2020 with cautious optimism but no breakthroughs can be expected on the horizon.

If the Ukrainian president becomes more determined in 2020, more impressive results may be achieved, Chairman of the State Duma Committee for CIS Affairs, Eurasian Integration and Relations with Compatriots Leonid Kalashnikov told the newspaper. "As of now, one can look at the prospects for resolving the conflict with cautious optimism. There are reasons for that, which include the disengagement of forces and the prisoner exchange. I think this trend will remain for quite a long time. Ukraine is not ready to take more decisive steps. However, Zelensky is indeed trying to contain the forces that seek to undermine the peace process," he pointed out.

The Normandy Four summit does offer a glimmer of hope, said Director of the Institute of Peacekeeping Initiatives and Conflictology Denis Denisov. However, in his view, the problem is that no breakthroughs have been achieved. "If the process remains limited to prisoner exchanges and the disengagement of forces, then efforts to resolve the situation may stall once again," the commentator emphasized.

The issue is that there is no systemic movement towards a solution, Director of the Kiev Center for Political Studies and Conflictology Mikhail Pogrebinsky explained. Donbass needs the Minsk Agreements to be fully implemented and the war in the trenches to end, but the current Ukrainian authorities are not yet ready for that. According to the Ukrainian political analyst, 2020 may see "slow efforts to implement disengagement agreements in new areas, which will reduce the number of shelling attacks," but nothing more can be expected.

One of Zelensky's two main promises was to bring the war to an end, a goal that polls have shown Ukrainians want to see accomplished more than anything. He showed a real willingness to end the war. The world saw it, too -- that the real desire for peace was on the part of Ukraine, not Russia. Throughout Zelenskiy's tenure, Kyiv and Western officials say, Russia has continued to funnel money, military equipment, and fighters to eastern Ukraine. There was some progress, with three major prisoner exchanges, troop withdrawals in three locations on the line between government-controlled and separatist-held territory, and the completion of a vital civilian bridge in the front-line town of Stanytsya Luhanska. He did not achieve peace on Russian terms, which would be unacceptable for most Ukrainians.



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