At the beginning of this year, the Ukrainian government adopted a legislative act, which in the public discourse came to be known as the Donbas reintegration bill. This new law addresses the non-government controlled areas (NGCAs) in Donbas region of Ukraine, which is a territory, where Russia-backed rebels are in military confrontation with the government of Ukraine.
PAX thinks that the current law with some adjustments could enhance the peace process between the Ukrainian government and Russian backed rebels in the Donbas. The sanctions against Russia must be upheld as long the country fails to admit its role as a side to the conflict and continues to escalate violence in Ukraine. The Ukrainian government must commit itself to allow free movement of citizens from the NGCA. In addition, PAX gives advice to international governments to help Ukraine and Russia with the peace process. The main principle is that the population living in the non-recognized areas will no longer be alienated from the other inhabitants of Ukraine.
The help of local authorities in Ukraine and civil society organizations is also needed in the peace process. That is an important condition, because otherwise the increased powers of the Ukrainian President and the Ukrainian army might lead to the abuse of power. Focus must be put on the contact between residents of the non-recognized areas and the citizens in the rest of Ukraine. The Donbas reintegration bill can ensure that peace-building takes place instead of a further escalation of violence, only if the recommendations proposed in the paper are taken into account.