The war in the Donbass region of the Ukraine has been ongoing since 2014 when groups known as the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and the Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) broke from the Ukraine. Here are 10 facts about the little-known war in Donbass:
- When the DPR and the LPR broke from the Ukraine in 2014 they created a federation called Novorossiya, yet the region is still more commonly known as the Donbass.
- In the Donbass region which is largely populated by Russian speakers, a strong “anti-maidan” movement grew in the region after the 2014 coup in Kiev. This movement’s goal was to prevent far-right groups from entering the region.
- Russia annexed the Crimea Peninsula of Ukraine in March of 2014 following the ousting of a pro-Russia president in Kiev. Despite Russia’s denial that it is supporting the separatists, Kiev claims that many Russian soldiers have traveled to the region.
- It is highly unlikely that soldiers from Russia and its allies would have traveled to the Ukraine against the will of Russian president Vladimir Putin.
- Fighting remains intense in the region, and civilian casualties still frequently occur.
- Ukraine’s pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych borrowed $3 billion from Russia to resist protesters in the early days of the conflict. When he was subsequently ousted, the Ukraine failed to pay back the bond, which led to Russia suing for repayment in British courts.
- The U.N. human rights office reported that between February 2015 and June 2016, 261 civilians were killed on both sides of the conflict. They stress, however, that these figures are a conservative estimate, and the DPR’s number of reported casualties is much higher.
- There have been several truces called, including in September and December 2016, yet they have all failed to secure lasting peace.
- There have been two Minsk agreements, the second of which was signed by Vladimir Putin, Francis Holland, Angela Merkel and Ukranian president Petro Poroshenko. Neither agreement has succeeded in ending the war in Donbass.
- There was hope that the Minsk II agreement would lead to free elections in the regions and a separate status for the Donbass region.
The conflict may be occurring in a reduced capacity, but the reality remains that there is a war in eastern Ukraine. Ongoing attention is required to create a lasting peace for the communities in this region.
– Eva Kennedy