Conflict Trends Update

UKRAINE

Reports of a Russian military build-up along the eastern border of Ukraine and in Crimea heightened fears of escalation in the face of persistent ceasefire violations in the Donbas region and a stalled peace process. Crisis Group expert Katharine Quinn-Judge says fighting in Donbas has often surged following periods of diplomatic deadlock yet Moscow’s troop build-up appears to be the most significant since the hot stage of the 2014-2015 war. Moscow has indicated that it would intervene to protect Russian passport holders in Donbas (a growing population thanks to Moscow’s provision of passports to residents) if Ukrainian actions place them in danger. To reduce risks, parties should return to the terms of their July 2020 ceasefire, with its strict limits on retaliatory fire, and allow full access to the OSCE to ensure robust monitoring.

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