1. “Indefinite” truce announced
Russia, Ukraine and the OSCE have announced an “indefinite” ceasefire in the Donbass. Since the beginning of the conflict in 2014 several ceasefires have been announced and none of them was ever respected. Both, Ukrainian armed forces and Russia backed Donetsk People’s (DPR) Republic and Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) violated the truce on a daily basis.
2. Shelling goes on
It’s extremely unlikely that the brand new ceasefire will be implemented. Since the US never took part in any negotiations over the Donbass conflict in the past five years, chances for a sustainable truce are very slim. After the events in Maidan in Kiev in 2014, Ukraine is firmly under the US geopolitical sphere of influence.
Even though the ceasefire won’t come into the effect, any major military offensives are not likely to happen either. Due to fear of sanctions, Russia’s been preventing its proxies from capturing new territories since the Debaltsevo offensive in 2015. Ukraine, on the other hand, won’t dare to start a massive assault until it gets firm guarantees that Moscow won’t intervene. In the meantime, the people of the Donbass will keep living under constant shelling.
3. No special status for the Donbass
Ukraine is not ready to recognise the special status of the Donbass under any circumstances, and that’s something that the Kremlin’s proposing. The Ukrainian society would see such move as an open betrayal, and it’s also unlikely that the West would agree with the idea. As long as the war in Donbass goes on, the EU and the US have a strong reason to keep imposing new packages of sanctions on Russia and weaken its economy. Russia is already spending a significant amount of money funding its proxies in the Donbass, and in the long term the price of keeping that territory under the Russian sphere of influence might be too high.
4. Donbass between Russia and Ukraine
The Kremlin is apparently looking for a way to reintegrate the Donbass into Ukraine. Local authorities in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic and Lugansk People’s Republic recently held small rallies demanding from the newly elected Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to end the war and approve the special status of the Donbass. Many in Russia, and in the Donbass as well, interpreted this as an act of betrayal claiming that the main goal of the uprising in 2014 was integration with Russia, according to the Crimean model, and not the special status within Ukraine.
5. Slow process of getting Russian citizenship
The self-proclaimed Donbass republics are fully integrated into Russian economy. Russian ruble already replaced Ukrainian hryvnia as the national currency, and Russian President Vladimir Putin recently signed a decree which makes it possible for residents of the DPR and LPR to obtain Russian citizenship under a simplified procedure. However, the process of “passportization” goes pretty slow, and so far only a few thousand out of roughly three million people received Russian passports.
In the long term, if all the residents of the self-proclaimed DPR and LPR become citizens of the Russian Federation, the situation will be quite similar to South Ossetia and Abkhazia before Moscow recognised their independence in 2008.