The consecutive summit in the “Normandy format” is being rescheduled, and the events occurring around the Minsk process have long turned it into a “to be or not to be” stage. Russia is constantly trying to narrow down the room for Ukraine to maneuver, while Ukraine is trying to impose a scenario that best suits its interests.

Currently, the main demand of the Kremlin is that the Constitution of Ukraine regarding the special status of the Donbas be amended. This status should grant a broad autonomy to the Donbas, and it would provide for a righr to veto in Ukraine’s home policy and specifically in foreign affairs. However, this scenario is not particularly appealing to Kyiv, because the topic of what the status of the Donbas will be presents a subject for discussion.  

We can talk about different types of autonomy, such as based on economics, politics, or culture. Each of these approaches has its pros and cons, but down the road, they can determine the nature and dynamics of coexistence within Ukraine.

The political type basically provides the right to influence foreign policy and the power of veto in other strategic decisions of the Ukrainian government. A case in point is the status of the Russian language as the official regional language.

It is similar to political and cultural autonomy, which apart from politics, also includes features of the regional cultural tradition. For example, redecommunization is the preservation of what decommunization sweeps away.

As for the third, economic type, it involves the elimination of restrictions on trade and economic relations between the partly occupied areas of the Donbas and the Ukrainian government-controlled territory.

The need to modernize the "Minsk process" in the Donbas appears  to be as urgent as never before.

Today the need to modernize the “Minsk process” in the Donbas appears  to be as urgent as never before. Because what we are having now does not lead to peace. Instead, within the existing framework, the discussion is constantly shifted to mutual accusations of the tasks not having been fulfilled.  Ukraine is required to fulfill all the clauses set out in the “Minsk documents”. But Russia must also fulfill its obligations on the agreement, such as withdrawing its troops from the territory of Donbas and cooperating in the conflict de-escalation. What do we have instead? – The continued weapon delivery for the gunmen not to cease firing.

Ukraine cannot fully implement the political part of the agreements on the Donbas (talking about local elections), unless the issue of security is resolved (this is the key issue for holding democratic elections). Moreover, it is illogical to make amendments to the Constitution in such a situation (as Oleksiy Reznikov, the Minister for Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories, made his point in a recent TV programme).

That said, without a sustainable ceasefire, it will be hard to implement any further steps, and this is not a lopsided game, but rather a two-way process. Only then it is possible to talk about implementing  the decisions of the Paris Normandy format summit.

Ukraine must not stop talking about Crimea. If we remain silent, the world will understand that we have reconciled.

Therefore, the Ukrainian side hints at a new format, such as some kind of Minsk modernization.  Moreover, to this end, we can also talk about strengthening the process by various high-level international platforms. This will allow discussing not only the issue of Donbas, but also the problems of Crimea. Thus, we are ready for any additional formats – It should not be exclusively the “Minsk process”, but it could also be “Budapest +” or “Normandy +”. And although Russia avoids discussing Crimean issues in every possible way, Ukraine must not stop talking about Crimea. If we remain silent, the world will understand that we have reconciled.

However, it should not be left out that the Kremlin will place more and more demands for a new meeting in the Normandy format to prevent this. We already went through this last year before the summit in Paris. This is Moscow style. You have to keep this in mind, but proceed with imposing your action plan. Otherwise they will just do it for us.

“The Minsk process” performs to the core a single function, namely – the battle of the narratives and the formation of a worldview. This is a war of the “verbal devices”, and the more comprehensible language weapon you have, the better Donbas worldview is shaped.

With what purpose? “To privatize” the reality in which the Ukrainians live. Having gained the power over their worldview, including the socio-political space, you can form your own historical truth and get access to living resources.

Taras Semenyuk, KyivStratPro analyst