Putin Accelerates Ukraine Campaign Amid Converging Crises

Russia in Review is a weekly intelligence summary (INTSUM) produced by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW). This ISW INTSUM series sheds light on key trends and developments related to the Russian government’s objectives and its efforts to secure them. Receive future Russia in Review INTSUM products via-email by signing up for the ISW mailing list.

By: Nataliya Bugayova, Mason Clark, George Barros.

Key Takeaway: Russian President Vladimir Putin is using multiple ongoing crises, including the COVID-19 outbreak, to advance his strategic objectives in Ukraine without drawing attention from the West. Ukrainian officials agreed on March 11 to the Kremlin’s demands to consider direct discussions with the Kremlin-controlled proxies in Donbas. This agreement for further talks could launch an irreversible process of internationally legitimizing Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine – one of Putin’s core objectives. These negotiations would have major consequences for Ukraine’s sovereignty, U.S. national security, and the international order. However, the talks remain unsolidified and Ukraine and the West still have time to change course before conceding legitimacy to Kremlin proxies in Donbas.

Ukrainian officials agreed to consider direct negotiations with the Kremlin’s proxies. Ukrainian officials signed a protocol facilitating direct talks between the Ukrainian government and Kremlin-controlled proxies in Donbas on March 11. Since the start of the conflict, Ukraine has refused to negotiate directly with Russian proxies. Representatives of the Trilateral Contact Group, including Ukraine, Russia, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) signed the protocol in Minsk, Belarus, on March 11.[1]  The group agreed to create an advisory council that will seek to stabilize the situation in Donbas and facilitate local elections. Participants agreed to finalize the council at the next meeting in Minsk, which will reportedly take place on March 25.[2] The council will include 10 representatives from Ukraine, 10 from the Kremlin-controlled proxies, and an unspecified number of additional representatives from the OSCE, Russia, Germany, and France. The protocols also call for Ukraine to withdraw troops from additional points on the frontline in Donbas.[3] Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has not yet publicly addressed Ukraine on the new protocols or released the documents beyond a brief statement.[4]

The March 11 protocol agreement, if solidified on March 25, could launch an irreversible process of legitimizing Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine. Any direct Ukrainian talks with Kremlin-controlled proxies advance the Kremlin’s objective of legitimizing its aggression in Ukraine. Inclusion of the Kremlin-controlled proxies in the advisory council would reinforce the Kremlin’s false narrative that Russia is an observer rather than a belligerent in the war in Donbas. Solidifying its status as a mediator is part of the Kremlin’s strategy for removing international constraints, such as sanctions, imposed for its military intervention in Ukraine. Additional disengagement zones – also implied in the protocol – would be further concessions to Russia at a time when the Kremlin openly exploited the disengagement of Ukrainian troops as recently as February. Ukraine and the West would be rewarding an aggressor if Ukraine agrees to additional disengagement zones under the current conditions. Finally, the protocol discusses the advisory council facilitating elections in Donbas.[5] Ukraine cannot hold elections in Donbas without compromising its long-term sovereignty so long as Russia has military and political control in Donbas. The Kremlin is trying to push Ukraine to hold elections on Russia’s terms while Russia maintains military, political, and informational control over the occupied territories.

The March 11 protocol is another step in the Kremlin’s multipart campaign to achieve a Russia-favorable peace deal in Ukraine. The Kremlin has been conducting a deliberate campaign to exploit Zelensky’s desire to end the war in Donbas. The Kremlin launched this campaign after Zelensky emerged as a serious presidential contender in early 2019.[6] The campaign has secured several notable concessions from Ukraine since Zelensky took office in April 2019.

The Kremlin’s pressure campaign seeks to legitimize Russian proxies in Ukraine and in the international community, grow Russia’s influence over political processes in Ukraine and shrink Zelensky’s political room to maneuver. Putin is also attempting to lift international constraints on Russia’s ambitions, such as sanctions, imposed on Russia for its military intervention in Ukraine.

ISW has tracked the Kremlin’s multiple lines of effort in its campaign to advance a Kremlin-favorable peace process in Ukraine.

Click here to enlarge chart.

 

Core Kremlin Lines of Effort in its ongoing Campaign in Ukraine

Shape Formal Peace Talks to Force Ukrainian Concessions

  • April 2019. Ukraine elects Zelensky, the Kremlin’s preferred candidate, as president.[7] Zelensky called for peace talks with Putin before his election; the Kremlin agrees to talks in December 2019 after setting favorable conditions.[8]
  • April 2019 - Ongoing. Zelensky begins pursuing talks with Russia to end the war in Donbas. The Kremlin exploits Zelensky’s outreach by deliberately delaying the talks and demanding concessions, including elections on Russia’s terms in the Kremlin-occupied Donbas region, the disengagement of Ukrainian troops, an end to Ukraine’s economic blockade of Russian proxies, and the solidifying of the special status of Kremlin-controlled territories in the Ukrainian constitution.[9] These concessions would permanently undermine Ukrainian sovereignty. 
  • September 2019. Ukraine agrees to the Steinmeier Formula, a Kremlin-favorable interpretation of the Minsk agreements. The Minsk agreements are the legal basis for the ceasefire and peace talks to end the war in Donbas.[10] The Steinmeier Formula would grant Russian-occupied regions “self-governance” after they hold local elections. Zelensky receives major public backlash.
  • December 2019. The Kremlin participates in the Normandy Format talks with Ukraine, France, and Germany.[11]
  • March 2020. The Kremlin secures preliminary agreement from the Ukrainian government to create an advisory council. Ukrainian will engage in direct talks with Kremlin proxies for the first time in the war if the advisory council comes to fruition.

Pressure Zelensky Militarily and through Subversive Means

  • April 2019 - Ongoing. Kremlin-controlled proxies continue regular levels of fighting in Donbas from April and intensified the fighting in the months leading up to the Normandy talks while the Kremlin frames itself as a mediator.[12]
  • May 2019. Kremlin-linked powerbrokers that fled Ukraine after the 2014 democratic EuroMaidan Revolution begin returning to Ukraine following Zelensky’s election, threatening to exacerbate divisions in Ukrainian society and impede good governance.[13] The return of Kremlin-linked powerbrokers could bring regressive policies likely to curb reform gains and civil liberties. They may also seek to take revenge against reformists and other political rivals who played a role in Euromaidan.
  • October 2019. Russian-controlled forces delay disengaging their forces in at least one of three locations by violating the ceasefire and restricting the movement of international observers.[14]
  • October 2019 - Ongoing. Putin launches a disinformation campaign accusing Ukraine of stalling the peace process and publicly questions Zelensky’s ability to control his forces. The Kremlin’s information campaign aims to keep Ukraine permanently on the defense internationally.
  • December 2019. The Kremlin reportedly increases cyber operations against Ukrainian government and military assets during the Normandy peace talks.[15]
  • January-February 2020. The Kremlin exploits the disengagement of Ukrainian troops from portions of the front. Kremlin-controlled forces launch an offensive on Ukrainian positions near a disengagement point on February 18 and execute a false-flag attack on a different disengagement point on January 26.[16] 
  • February 2020. Likely Kremlin-linked actors launch a COVID-19 disinformation campaign in Ukraine to intensify domestic friction and provoke mistrust of the Zelensky government.[17]

Increase Control over Kremlin Proxies in Donbas

  • April 2019. The Kremlin intensifies its campaign to grant Russian citizenship to Ukrainians to increase leverage over Ukraine and administrative capabilities in occupied Donbas.[18]
  • August 2019. The Kremlin increases its control of transport and financial infrastructure in occupied Donbas.[19]
  • October 2019. The Kremlin dismisses the idea of dissolving its proxy, self-proclaimed “Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics” (DNR and LNR). Putin takes this position despite the premise of the Steinmeier Formula: that elections should be conducted under Ukrainian law, implying Ukrainian control over the territories (which are within Ukraine’s borders).[20]
  • January 2020. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs claims it issued Russian passports to 220,000 Ukrainians in 2019.[21]
  • February 2020. The Kremlin’s proxies in eastern Ukraine announce the appointment of a former Russian deputy governor as prime minister of the DNR. [22]

Force Ukrainian Concessions and Diminish Zelensky’s Leverage

  • July 2019. Zelensky starts to fulfil Putin’s demands to disengage from the frontlines. Ukrainian forces unilaterally withdraw from a disengagement point in Stanytsia Luhanska despite concerns among Ukrainian military officials and civil activists.[23]
  • September 2019. The Kremlin leverages Zelensky’s promise to secure the return of Ukrainian prisoners.[24] The Kremlin receives Vladimir Tsemakh, a key witness in the July 2014 shootdown of civilian flight MH-17, in a prisoner exchange with Ukraine.[25]
  • October 2019. Ukraine agrees to abide by the Steinmeier Formula, a Kremlin-favorable interpretation of the Minsk agreements.[26] The Steinmeier Formula would grant Russian-occupied regions “self-governance” after they hold local elections. Ukraine starts force withdrawal from Zolote and Petrivske as the Kremlin’s condition for peace talks in Normandy.[27]
  • November 2019. Ukraine completes force withdrawals from Zolote and Petrivske per the Kremlin’s request on November 11 and November 1, respectively, despite public backlash.[28] The Kremlin makes no meaningful concessions in return and continues to build pressure on Zelensky.[29] Putin demands that Zelensky disengage Ukrainian troops from the entire conflict line.[30]
  • December 2019. The Kremlin achieves a gas deal with Ukraine, successfully stripping away Ukraine’s long-term energy leverage against Russia.[31] The Kremlin secures the return of five members of the disbanded Berkut security service in a prisoner exchange, provoking further public backlash in Ukraine.[32]
  • March 2020. Ukraine signs the March 11 protocols that call for further disengagement points in Donbas and reductions of Ukrainian forces in addition to the creation of the Kremlin-preferred advisory council. These concessions come despite a lack of Russian de-escalation.

Exploit European Desires to Normalize Relations with Russia

  • June 2019. The EU’s Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) reinstates Russia’s voting privileges.[33] PACE initially revoked Russia’s voting rights following the annexation of Crimea. The reinstatement advances the Kremlin’s efforts to normalize its violations of international law.
  • July 2019. Putin discusses resuming the Normandy Four discussion format with France and Germany.[34]
  • August 2019 – Ongoing. Putin and French President Emanuel Macron hold at least 10 phone calls on various peace talks, including Ukraine, since August 2019.[35]
  • November 2019. The Kremlin agrees to peace talks with Ukraine, Germany and France in December.[36]  The Kremlin claims on November 11 that German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed with Putin that Donbas should receive special status, a legal provision that could legitimize the Kremlin’s proxies in Ukraine.[37]
  • December 2019. Ukraine, Russia, Germany, and France hold peace talks in Paris, setting conditions for Ukraine to make more concessions. [38] Germany and France likely pressure Ukraine to sign a Kremlin-favorable energy deal that removes Ukraine’s long-term energy leverage on Russia.[39]
  • March 2020. The Kremlin sets conditions to engage Europeans in an interparliamentary format. Pro-Kremlin Ukrainian politician Viktor Medvedchuk met with Putin in Moscow on March 11 to discuss implementing an interparliamentary Normandy Format group that includes Ukrainian, German, and French members of parliament.[40] The Kremlin increasingly uses parliamentary outreach as a foreign policy tool, which ISW has analyzed.[41]

The Kremlin likely identified March as an opportune time to force larger concessions from Zelensky. The Kremlin likely pushed for concession in March, including the March 11 agreement on talks, to take advantage of converging crises in Ukraine and globally. Zelensky and the Ukrainian public are distracted several trends, including COVID-19 - which lowers the likelihood of large protests in Ukraine, Zelensky’s formation of the new cabinet on March 4, and the prospects of an economic downturn.[42] Zelensky’s approval ratings have also been decreasing.[43] The West is also focused on COVID-19 and the economic costs of the disease.

Ukrainian civil society and select members of the government are attempting to resist the implementation of the March 11 protocol, but the Kremlin will likely double down on its efforts while the converging crises last. Protesters marched in Kyiv on March 14 against direct talks with the Kremlin-controlled proxies and to oppose further concessions to Russia.[44] A group of Ukrainian parliamentarians, including members of Zelensky’s Servant of the People party, signed a petition calling on Zelensky to stop advancing this effort.[45] MPs also called for the resignation of Sergey Sivokho, Zelensky’s associate and a senior official in Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, for his actions and rhetoric reinforcing the Kremlin’s false narrative of an internal Ukrainian conflict.[46] The Kremlin will nevertheless continue to double down on its efforts to maximize opportunity that the convergence of crises presents to push through its agenda in Ukraine.

Implications for Ukraine and the West 

Zelensky’s current approach to establishing peace and reintegrating the territories currently occupied by Russia carries risks to Ukraine’s sovereignty. Zelensky’s approach can also empower Putin’s regime globally. Putin has demonstrated with his continued military campaign that peace is not his priority in Ukraine. Putin is exploiting Zelensky’s desire for peace to ensure that Russia gains control over Kyiv’s decision making and further legitimizes the principle of Russian military intervention in Russia’s neighboring states. The West should not allow the Kremlin to manipulate Ukraine into a Kremlin-brokered peace agreement that amounts to a Ukrainian surrender and removes restraints on Putin’s ambitions globally.  

Any legitimization of Russian-controlled regions would irreversibly undermine Ukraine’s sovereignty. Putin would gain a permanent lever of influence over Ukraine’s politics. Russia might also attempt to use the precedent of Donbas as a model to push for more autonomy for other Ukrainian regions at the expense of Ukraine’s central government. Major concessions to Russia will also fuel tension between Ukraine’s civil society and Zelensky. Ukraine will lose leverage with Russia and the West if Ukraine and the West voluntarily legitimize Russia’s intervention.

Acceptance of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine will empower Putin globally.

  • Ukraine is a major dampener on Putin’s ambitions. Putin’s Ukraine campaign consumes a large quantity of Russia’s limited high-quality assets for such interventions, drains Putin’s personal bandwidth, and expends additional material resources. Success in Ukraine will free up Putin’s resources and enable him to press his advantage elsewhere, from expanding Russia’s military footprint, to undermining NATO, to regaining dominant influence over the territories of the former Soviet Union.
  • Acceptance of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine would legitimize Putin’s foreign policy in Ukraine. Russia would have established the principle that it can invade another country, manipulate the political environment, and force the victim country to submit to Russia’s power – all while Russia claims to support “peace” and presents itself as a neutral arbiter. The Kremlin’s invasion of Georgia in 2008 also supported this principle. The scale of Russia’s intervention in Ukraine is far more significant than in Georgia. An outcome for Russia in Ukraine that mirrors that lack of consequences for its actions in Georgia would create an international precedent that other countries could emulate.



[1] Head of the Ukrainian Presidential Office Andriy Yermak and Kremlin representative Dmitry Kozak attended the TCG meeting. [“A TCG Meeting Was Held in Minsk with the Participation of The Head of the President’s Office Andrei Yermak,”] Presidency of Ukraine, March 11, 2020, https((:))//www.president.gov.ua/news/u-minsku-vidbulosya-zasidannya-tkg-za-uchastyu-kerivnika-ofi-60125; [“New Minsk Protocols. Document,”] ZN UA, March 13, 2020, https((:))//dt.ua/POLITICS/novi-minski-protokoli-dokument-341404_.html; [“‘Advisory Council’ on Donbas. Why Yermak Met with Kozak,”] Krim Realii, March 15, 2020, https://ru.krymr.com/a/konsultaciooniy-sovet-po-donbassu-ermak-i-kozak/30488835.html.

[2] Oleksiy Sorokin, “In Controversial Change, Ukraine to Enter Direct Negotiations with Russian-Led Militants,” Kyiv Post, March 23, 2020, https://www.kyivpost(.)com/ukraine-politics/in-controversial-change-ukraine-to-enter-direct-negotiations-with-russian-led-militants.html; Vyacheslav Masny, [“New Agreements on Donbas: What They Want to Sign with Zelensky in Minsk,”] Apostroph, March 13, 2020, https((:))//apostrophe.ua/article/politics/foreign-policy/2020-03-13/novyie-soglasheniya-po-donbassu-chto-hotyat-podpisat-u-zelenskogo-v-minske/31548; [“Yermak and Kozak Were at the TCG Meeting in Minsk: What They Discussed,”] Liga, March 11, 2020, https((:))//news.liga.net/politics/news/na-vstreche-trehstoronney-gruppy-v-minske-byli-ermak-i-kozak-chto-obsujdali.

[3] The protocols state Ukraine and Russia will finalize lists for a prisoner exchange and submit proposals for “possible compromises” on force disengagement by March 18.

[4] [“A TCG Meeting Was Held in Minsk with the Participation of The Head of the President’s Office Andrei Yermak,”] Presidency of Ukraine, March 11, 2020, https((:))//www.president.gov.ua/news/u-minsku-vidbulosya-zasidannya-tkg-za-uchastyu... https((:)//www.president.gov.ua/news/u-minsku-vidbulosya-zasidannya-tkg-za-uchastyu-kerivnika-ofi-60125.

[5] [“New Minsk Protocols. Document,”] ZN UA, Digital Image, March 13, 2020, Accessed on ZN UA, https((:))//image.zn.ua/media/images/original/Mar2020/254580.jpg.

[6] Andrea Snyder and Nataliya Bugayova, “Russia in Review: April 4 - 11, 2019,” Institute for the Study of War, April 11, 2019, http://iswresearch.blogspot.com/2019/04/russia-in-review-april-4-11-2019.html; Nataliya Bugayova, “Ukraine's New President: The Stakes for Ukraine and the West,” Institute for the Study of War, April 22, 2019, http://iswresearch.blogspot.com/2019/04/ukraines-new-president-stakes-for.html.

[7] Zelensky is not inherently pro-Kremlin, but exploitable to grow Kremlin influence due to his lack of political experience. Nataliya Bugayova, “The Balancing Challenge for Ukraine,” Institute for the Study of War, September 5, 2019, http://iswresearch.blogspot.com/2019/09/the-balancing-challenge-for-ukra... Nataliya Bugayova, “Ukraine's New President: The Stakes for Ukraine and the West,” Institute for the Study of War, April 22, 2019, http://iswresearch.blogspot.com/2019/04/ukraines-new-president-stakes-fo....

[8] “Zelensky’s first steps as president in case he wins election runoff – media,” UNIAN, April 10, 2019, https(:)//www.unian.info/politics/10511892-zelensky-s-first-steps-as-president-in-....

[9] Nataliya Bugayova, “Russia in Review: Exploiting Transition in Ukraine,” Institute for the Study of War, July 12, 2019, http://iswresearch.blogspot.com/2019/07/russia-in-review-exploiting-transition.html; Nataliya Bugayova and George Barros, “The Perils of Talks on Russia's War in Ukraine,” Institute for the Study of War, December 7, 2019, https://iswresearch.blogspot.com/2019/12/the-perils-of-talks-on-russias-war-in.html.

[10] George Barros with Nataliya Bugayova, “Russia in Review: The Kremlin’s Fake De-Escalation in Donbas,” Institute for the Study of War, February 24, 2020, https://iswresearch.blogspot.com/2020/02/russia-in-review-kremlins-fake-....

[11] Nataliya Bugayova and George Barros, “The Perils of Talks on Russia's War in Ukraine,” Institute for the Study of War, December 7, 2019, https://iswresearch.blogspot.com/2019/12/the-perils-of-talks-on-russias-war-in.html.

[12] George Barros with Nataliya Bugayova, “Russia in Review: The Kremlin’s Fake De-Escalation in Donbas,” Institute for the Study of War, February 24, 2020, https://iswresearch.blogspot.com/2020/02/russia-in-review-kremlins-fake-de.html.

[13] Nataliya Bugayova, “Russia in Review: Exploiting Transition in Ukraine,” Institute for the Study of War, July 12, 2019, http://iswresearch.blogspot.com/2019/07/russia-in-review-exploiting-transition.html.

[14] [“OSCE Daily Report 259/2019,” Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, November 1, 2019, https((:))//www.osce.org/special-monitoring-mission-to-ukraine/437744?download=true.

[15] The California-based SentinelLabs intelligence and malware analysis organization published this assessment on February 5. Vitali Kremez, “Pro-Russian CyberSpy Gamaredon Intensifies Ukrainian Security Targeting,” February 5, 2020, https://labs.sentinelone.com/pro-russian-cyberspy-gamaredon-intensifies-ukrainian-security-targeting/ ; [“The Security Service of Ukraine Blocked in Kyiv the Work of a ‘Bot Farm’ Organized by Russian Citizens,”] State Security Service of Ukraine, January 29, 2020, https://ssu.gov(.)ua/ua/news/1/category/2/view/7054#.KnbLlhUI.dpbs.

[16] George Barros with Nataliya Bugayova, “Russia in Review: The Kremlin’s Fake De-Escalation in Donbas,” Institute for the Study of War, February 24, 2020, https://iswresearch.blogspot.com/2020/02/russia-in-review-kremlins-fake-de.html.

[17] George Barros, “Viral Disinformation: The Kremlin’s Coronavirus Information Operation in Ukraine,” Institute for the Study of War, March 11, 2020, http://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/viral-disinformation-kremlin%E2%80%99s-coronavirus-information-operation-ukraine ; George Barros with Nataliya Bugayova, “Russia in Review: The Kremlin’s Fake De-Escalation in Donbas,” Institute for the Study of War, February 24, 2020, https://iswresearch.blogspot.com/2020/02/russia-in-review-kremlins-fake-de.html.

[18] Mason Clark and Nataliya Bugayova, “Russia in Review: May 9 - 13, 2019,” Institute for the Study of War, May 14, 2019, http://iswresearch.blogspot.com/2019/05/russia-in-review-may-9-13-2019.html.

[19] Nataliya Bugayova, “Russia in Review: Putin Advances in Ukraine and Its Neighboring States,” Institute for the Study of War, October 15, 2019,  http://iswresearch.blogspot.com/2019/10/russia-in-review-putin-advances-... ; [“Fighters from 'DNR' and 'LNR' Created a New Cross Border Concern,”] Lenta, August 8, 2019, https://lenta((.))ua/boeviki-iz-dnr-i-lnr-sozdali-novyy-transgranichnyy-kontsern-20873/; [“”’DNR’ and ‘LNR’ Combined the Railways in the Concern ‘Railways of Donbass,’”] Antikor, August 19, 2019, https://antikor(.)com.ua/articles/320311-dnr_i_lnr_objedinili_heleznye_dorogi_v_kontsern_heleznye_dorogi_donbassa ; [“The Russian Federation is Preparing Occupied Donbas’ Banking System for Integration – InformNapalm,”] Gordon, August 21, 2019, https://gordonua(.)com/news/war/rf-gotovit-bankovskuyu-sistemu-okkupirovannogo-donbassa-k-integracii-informnapalm-1210939.html.

[20] [“Pushkov Commented on Kyiv’s Demand to Dissolve the DNR and LNR,”] RIA Novosti, October 16, 2019, https://ria(.)ru/20191016/1559836500.html; [“Putin Spoke about the Steinmeier Formula,”] RIA Novosti, November 14, 2019, https://ria(.)ru/20191114/1560957297.html.

[21] [“The Ministry of Internal Affairs Named the Number of Residents of the DNR and LNR who Received Russian Citizenship,”] Izvestia, January 28, 2020, https://iz(.)ru/969213/2020-01-28/v-mvd-nazvali-chislo-poluchivshikh-rossiiskoe-grazhdanstvo-zhitelei-dnr-i-lnr.

[22] The Kremlin denied any involvement in the appointment of the new Prime Minister. [“‘A Former Official from Russia who Worked for Kurchenko Took Charge of the ‘Government of the DNR,’”] Strana, February 6, 2020, https://strana(.)ua/news/248392-vladimir-pashkov-novyj-premer-dnr-chto-o-nem-izvestno.html ; [“Former Russian Vice-Governor Appointed by the Kremlin as New ‘Prime Minister’ of the ‘DNR,”] Ukrainskyi Novinini, February 6, 2020, https://ukranews(.)com/news/682340-novym-premerom-dnr-stal-byvshij-chinovnik-rossii-pashkov; “Kremlin Says It Has No Part in Russian Citizen Becoming 'Prime Minister' In Ukraine's Separatist Region,” Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, February 6, 2020, https://www.rferl.org/a/kremlin-says-has-no-part-in-russian-citizen-beco....

[23] Nataliya Bugayova, “Russia in Review: Exploiting Transition in Ukraine,” Institute for the Study of War, July 12, 2019, http://iswresearch.blogspot.com/2019/07/russia-in-review-exploiting-tran....

[24] Nataliya Bugayova, “The Balancing Challenge for Ukraine,” Institute for the Study of War, September 5, 2019, http://iswresearch.blogspot.com/2019/09/the-balancing-challenge-for-ukra....

[25] “Ukraine Releases Key MH17 Witness Amid Prisioner Swap Talks With Russia,” Moscow Times, September 5, 2019, https://www.themoscowtimes(.)com/2019/09/05/ukraine-releases-key-mh17-witness-amid-prisoner-swap-talks-with-russia-a67164.

[26] George Barros with Nataliya Bugayova, “Russia in Review: The Kremlin’s Fake De-Escalation in Donbas,” Institute for the Study of War, February 24, 2020, https://iswresearch.blogspot.com/2020/02/russia-in-review-kremlins-fake-....

[27] George Barros with Nataliya Bugayova, “Russia in Review: The Kremlin’s Fake De-Escalation in Donbas,” Institute for the Study of War, February 24, 2020, https://iswresearch.blogspot.com/2020/02/russia-in-review-kremlins-fake-....

[28] Illia Ponomarenko, “Ukraine military: Disengagement near Petrivske in Donbas completed,” Kyiv Post, November 11, 2019, https://www.kyivpost(.)com/ukraine-politics/ukraine-military-disengagement-near-petrivske-in-donbas-completed.html ; Toma Istomina, “Ukraine, Russia Complete Disengagement Near Zolote Amid Ceasefire Violations,” Kyiv Post, November 2, 2019, https://www.kyivpost(.)com/ukraine-politics/ukrainian-forces-russian-backed-militants-announce-completed-disengagement-near-zolote-amid-ceasefire-violations.html.

[29] Nataliya Bugayova and George Barros, “The Perils of Talks on Russia's War in Ukraine,” Institute for the Study of War, December 7, 2019, https://iswresearch.blogspot.com/2019/12/the-perils-of-talks-on-russias-war-in.html.

[30] [“Putin Called for the Withdrawal of Troops Along the Entire Front Line in Donbas as Soon as Possible,”] Ukraina, November 15, 2019, https://ukraina(.)ru/news/20191115/1025679793.html.

[31] George Barros and Nataliya Bugayova, “Europe Cedes Opportunity in Russia-Ukraine Energy Deal,” The Institute for the Study of War, January 30, 2020, https://iswresearch.blogspot.com/2020/01/europe-cedes-opportunity-in-rus....

[32] Russia and Ukraine completed a prisoner exchange on December 29. Ukraine returned Russian nationals, as well as five members of the disbanded Berkut security service who are suspected participants in the crackdown and killing of demonstrators at the Euromaidan protests of 2014. Zelensky faced pushback from civil society, but defended the exchange of the five Berkut members, saying it was the Kremlin’s condition for the exchange. Tony Wesolowsky, “Price To Pay: Release Of Former Ukrainian Riot Police In Prisoner Swap Sparks Anguish, Debate,” Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, December 30, 2019, https://www.rferl.org/a/release-of-former-ukrainian-riot-police-in-priso... Oleg Sukhov and Jostyantyn Chernichkin, “Court Releases Former Berkut Officers Charged with EuroMaidan Killings,” Kyiv Post, December 28, 2019, https://www.kyivpost(.)com/ukraine-politics/court-releases-berkut-prisoners-charged-with-euromaidan-killings.html.

[33] Darina Regio, Mason Clark, Nataliya Bugayova, and Michaela Walker “Russia in Review: June 24, 2019 - July 2, 2019,” Institute for the Study of War, July 3, 2019, http://iswresearch.blogspot.com/2019/07/russia-in-review-june-24-2019-july-2.html.

[34] Nataliya Bugayova, “Russia in Review: Exploiting Transition in Ukraine,” Institute for the Study of War, July 12, 2019, http://iswresearch.blogspot.com/2019/07/russia-in-review-exploiting-tran....

[35] [“Telephone Conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron,”] Kremlin, February 29, 2020, http://kremlin(.)ru/catalog/persons/518/events/62886; [“Telephone Conversation with Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel,”] Kremlin, February 20, 2020, http://kremlin(.)ru/catalog/persons/518/events/62837; [“Telephone Conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron,”] Kremlin, January 12, 2020, http://kremlin(.)ru/catalog/persons/518/events/62569; [“Telephone Conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron,”] Kremlin, January 3, 2020, http://kremlin(.)ru/catalog/persons/518/events/62539; [“Telephone Conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron,”] Kremlin, December 17, 2019, http://kremlin(.)ru/catalog/persons/518/events/62361; [“Telephone Conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron,”] Kremlin, November 18, 2019, http://kremlin(.)ru/catalog/persons/518/events/62063; [“Telephone Conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron,”] Kremlin, October 26, 2019, http://kremlin(.)ru/catalog/persons/518/events/61914; [“Telephone Conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron,”] Kremlin, October 21, 2019, http://kremlin(.)ru/catalog/persons/518/events/61869; [“Telephone Conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron,”] Kremlin, September 8, 2019, http://kremlin(.)ru/catalog/persons/518/events/61483; [“Telephone Conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron,”] Kremlin, July 18, 2019, http://kremlin(.)ru/events/president/news/61038.

[36] Nataliya Bugayova and George Barros, “The Perils of Talks on Russia's War in Ukraine,” Institute for the Study of War, December 7, 2019, https://iswresearch.blogspot.com/2019/12/the-perils-of-talks-on-russias-war-in.html.

[37] Maria Tsvetkova and Michael Nienaber, “Putin, Merkel Say Ukraine's Donbass Should Get Special Status – Kremlin,” Reuters, November 11, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-russia-germany-ukraine/putin-merkel-a....

[38] George Barros and Nataliya Bugayova, “Europe Cedes Opportunity in Russia-Ukraine Energy Deal,” The Institute for the Study of War, January 30, 2020, https://iswresearch.blogspot.com/2020/01/europe-cedes-opportunity-in-rus....

[39] George Barros and Nataliya Bugayova, “Europe Cedes Opportunity in Russia-Ukraine Energy Deal,” The Institute for the Study of War, January 30, 2020, https://iswresearch.blogspot.com/2020/01/europe-cedes-opportunity-in-rus....

[40] [“Meeting with Vyacheslav Volodin and Victor Medvedchuk,”] Kremlin, March 10, 2020, http://kremlin(.)ru/events/president/news/62967.

[41] Nataliya Bugayova and Darina Regio, “Russia in Review: Diversifying Foreign Policy Tools”, Institute for the Study of War, October 1, 2019, http://iswresearch.blogspot.com/2019/10/russia-in-review-diversifying-fo....

[42] “Who’s Who in Ukraine’s Cew Cabinet of Ministers,” Kyiv Post, March 4, 2020, https://www.kyivpost(.)com/ukraine-politics/whos-who-in-ukraines-new-cabinet-of-ministers.html.

[43] [“January Information Blasts: Public Opinion Reaction,”] Center for Social Monitoring, February 3, 2020, https://smc.org(.)ua/news/informatsijni-vybuhy-sichnya-reaktsiya-gromadskoyi-dumky/?fbclid=IwAR1segFXyiwJ5zHkUPVtcLoitC-5tgaAHNiHrNEaF_GBKp6adAFlgZwUZcg ; [“Citizens Assessment of Government Activity, Level of Trust in Social Institutions and Politicians, Electoral Orientation of Citizens,”] Razumkov Center, February 24, 2020, http://razumkov.org(.)ua/napriamky/sotsiologichni-doslidzhennia/otsinka-gromadianamy-diialnosti-vlady-riven-doviry-do-sotsialnykh-instytutiv-ta-politykiv-elektoralni-oriientatsii-gromadian-liutyi-2020r.

[44] ["Yermak Was Able to Make the Largest Protest During Zelensky's Time. Protestors Are Meeting at Against Direct Negotiations with ORDLO at the Bankova,"] Espreso, March 14, 2020. https((:))//espreso.tv/news/2020/03/14/quotyermak_zmig_zibraty_naybilshu_akciyu_protesta_chasiv_zelenskogoquot_na_bankoviy_mitynguyut_proty_pryamykh_peremovyn_z_ordlo_nazhyvo.

[45] [“Within Servant of the People MPs Demand Rejecting Representatives of ORDLO to Ukrainian Negotiations with the Russian Federation,”] Ukrinform, March 13, 2020, https((:))//www.ukrinform.ua/rubric-polytics/2896083-u-sluzi-narodu-vimagaut-ne-dopustiti-predstavnikiv-ordlo-do-peregovoriv-ukraini-z-rf.html; [“Address to the President,”] Google Docs, Accessed March 23, 2020, https://docs.google.com/document/d/1PyZ324RW1uFhuNjClT9naQBGgcjf9PmsEco7dHnJspk/edit

[46] [“Part of Servant of the People Demands that Danilov Fire Sivokho,”] Ukrayinska Pravda, March 16, 2020,  https((:))//www.pravda.com.ua/rus/news/2020/03/16/7243797/; [“The National Corps Crashed the Presentation of the Reconciliation Platform for Donbas: Sivokho Fell After Being Pushed,”] Novosti Donbassa, March 12, 2020, https://novosti.dn(.)ua/news/299845-prezentacyyu-platformy-prymyrenyya-dlya-donbassa-sorval-nackorpus-syvokho-upal-posle-tolchka.

Tags