Donbas NGOs present strategy to solve crisis in eastern Ukraine


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The Coalition of Patriotic Forces of Donbas has appealed to the Ukrainian Parliament to officially recognize Russian-held Donbas as territories occupied by the Russian Federation; officially recognize ‘LNR’ and ‘DNR’ as pro-Russian terrorist organizations; introduce a full economic blockade of the occupied territories.

“The main problem of the conflict in Donbas is not a military defeat or humanitarian crisis, but rather the absence of understanding among the authorities and population of where we are going, what we want, and how this is to be achieved. The population is disoriented informationally. This is because there is no clear strategy among authorities to solve the crisis in the East,” stated representatives of the Coalition of Patriotic Forces of Donbas at a press conference in UNIAN in Kyiv held on 23 February 2015.

Established in March 2014, the Coalition (previously – Committee of Patriotic Forces of Donbas) has publicly announced about its activities, having presented the ‘Strategy of solving the crisis in the Eastern Ukraine,’ which implies non-military way of solving the military conflict.

The document, which is to be submitted to the Presidential Administration, National Security and Defence Council, committees of the Parliament, was signed by members of the Coalition, 15 non-governmental organizations from Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts of Ukraine.

Two key ideas were put in the foundation of the strategy:

  1. we need to call things with proper names, as the official language today does not adequately represent the essence of current events;
  2. it is impossible to win the hybrid war with only military actions.

“In a hybrid war you have to fight with the weapons of your enemy,” said Serhiy Garmash, Coalition coordinator, editor-in-chief of the Ostrov information agency. He explains that Ukraine is not using fully economic and information resources of influence. Serhiy Tkachenko, head of Donetsk organization of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine, and Pavlo Zhovnirenko, head of Center for Strategic Studies, also spoke at the conference.

Key points of the presented strategy:

  • To official recognize (by Parliament) Russian-held Donbas as territory occupied by the Russian Federation;
  • To officially recognize ‘LNR’ and ‘DNR’ as pro-Russian terrorist organizations which were established and are acting under the control of Russian Federation with the goal of violating Ukraine’s territorial integrity and its occupation;
  • To introduce a total economic blockade of Russian-occupied territory and ban all economic relations with occupational forces and business subjects working on the occupied territories;
  • To introduce economic sanctions on the violators of this ban;
  • To introduce criminal prosecution for cooperating with occupational forces;
  • To establish a loyal system of the entry-exit regime to the occupied territories for Ukrainian citizens who have or had registration in the occupied territories;
  • To establish a unified database of Ukrainian law enforcement agencies of people involved in terrorist activities;
  • To establish a preferential economic regime for the IDPs;
  • To destroy media infrastructure (like TV towers) on the occupied territory.

The full text of the Strategy is presented below:


Strategy of Crisis Resolution in the Eastern Ukraine

The basis of this strategy is the fact that the war in Eastern Ukraine is a HYBRID one, which means it CANNOT be won with only military actions!

Moreover, military action, as key destabilizing factor for Ukraine, appears to be a scenario most desirable for Kremlin. Respectfully, we have to avoid this scenario, giving asymmetric response to the challenges posed by Moscow.

We must admit that our armed forces are not so numerous and not so well armed comparing to Russian military, disguised as a so-called ‘militia’. While the border with Russia is open and Russia is strong, a military scenario is undesirable for Ukraine. Ukraine needs to gain time to upgrade and strengthen its army, or to create an organized guerrilla network, following the example of the Swiss army.


However, this does not mean the end of fighting or conservation of crisis. This means a transition of Ukraine from military operation to a HYBRID war, in which the military goes on the scene only at the final stage.

Hybrid warfare implies pressure on the enemy, primarily through POLITICAL, ECONOMIC and HUMANITARIAN factors. This means actions aimed against the ruling political regime in Russia, Vladimir Putin, both on the diplomatic front, and in all spheres of economy and finance, development of internal opposition and, necessarily, – increase of informational influence on the object of attack.

All state structures of Ukraine have to determine weaknesses of aggressor in their field of activity. On the basis of this analysis a comprehensive program for non-military weakening of the Russian Federation should be prepared.

It is imperial Russia, and not the ‘DNR/LNR’, that should be the subject of the Ukrainian counter-attack. To fight with the separatists, while not fighting with the Russian regime which feeds them, is the same as treating the symptoms of the disease, rather than eliminating its cause.

The major direction of the counterattack is the destruction of the myth of Russian people’s imperialism, of its state-building role, on which the whole ideology of the Russian state is built. The destruction of this myth will lead to the disintegration of the Russian Federation and to the liberation of the peoples enslaved by the imperial Russia.

The objectives of Moscow are clear and were repeatedly vocalized by its leadership: constitutional reform in Ukraine, federative state or even autonomy of Donbas, and de facto recognition of DNR/LNR subjectivity by the leadership of Ukraine through the direct negotiations with them. Putin wants to make the Donbas a hotbed of permanent instability in Ukraine, a leverage to influence Ukraine. Our task is to turn the occupied territories into a hotbed of instability for imperial Russia and make it an unbearable burden for its economy, to lay the full responsibility for the political, social, military and humanitarian consequences of the crisis in the East of Ukraine upon Russia.

We propose the following complex of steps to reach these goals:

1. To declare publicly, with a special appeal of the President of Ukraine to the people of the occupied territories, the refusal to conduct offensive military operations to liberate the territories seized by terrorists, and taking the purely defensive positions by the Armed Forces of Ukraine. To declare the priority of human life over the territory.

“We will never recognize ‘DNR/LNR’, we will never recognize anyone’s jurisdiction over these territories, except for Ukrainian, but currently we do not have sufficient resources (military, economic, humanitarian) to provide quick and effective liberation of the occupied territories, protection of the civilians in the occupied territories, who perform the function of the hostages, we cannot guarantee the rule of law in this area and realization of citizens’ rights. We understand that currently an offensive in the occupied territories will lead to a huge number of casualties among civilians and Ukrainian soldiers. Therefore, we appeal to the international community to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe in the occupied territories, to facilitate the protection of civilians, to use the means of international legal influence on aggressor state, in order to protect the civilian population in accordance with the 1949 Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, (Section 3, Articles 50-60). We are forced to temporarily suspend the efforts to free our lands from invaders and regaining control over these territories of Ukraine in order to preserve the lives of civilians in Donbas and Ukrainian soldiers. “

– To change the opinion of people living in the occupied territories and in Russia, where it is widely believed that Ukraine is at war with the population of Donbas, in connection with which the anti-Ukrainian sentiments are growing;
– To declare our peaceful position to the world community;
– To force Russia to cease hostilities;
– To reduce the intensity of anti-mobilization sentiments in Ukraine;
– To give the people living in both occupied and liberated territories the perspective vision of the conflict development;
– To win the time to create a powerful defensive line to make expansion of the occupied territories impossible, to transfer a hybrid war into enemy territory (including activities of subversive groups);
– To give a ‘defensive’ motif to our partners, to substantiate weapons delivery to Ukraine;
– Prospectively, to prepare the bridgehead and accumulate resources for the restoration of the territorial integrity of Ukraine.

2. The official recognition of the captured territories – as the territories OCCUPIED BY THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION, adoption of the relevant legal act by the Verkhovna Rada (Parliament) of Ukraine.

– Assignment of responsibility for social, military and humanitarian consequences of the crisis in the East of Ukraine to Russia;
– Legal definition of the status of Ukrainian citizens living in the occupied territories;
– Undermining the Russian economy;
– Change the minds of the residents of the occupied territories and of the residents of Russia, regarding who is responsible for the economic and socio-political situation of the people in the occupied territories;
– Clear identification of the Russian Federation as the subject of negotiations regarding Donbas, bypassing the ‘DNR/LNR’;
– Possibility to start legal proceedings against Russia, which has occupied the part of Ukrainian territory;
– Introduction of the restrictions on the rights and freedoms of Ukrainian citizens living in the occupied territories (which currently contradict with Art. 64 of the Constitution of Ukraine).

3. Official recognition of ‘DNR/LNR’ as pro-Russian terrorist organizations, which have been established and are operating under the control of the Russian Federation, with the goal of violating the territorial integrity of Ukraine, occupation of the territory of Ukraine.

– To define, within the legal framework, all parties of the armed conflict, to bring in order their legal status and, therefore, determine the behavior of Ukraine in relation to them, in order to eliminate chaotic and contradictory actions of the state and its apparatus in this situation;

4. Introduction of the legal regime of martial law in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions.

– To return all those rights limitations (on property rights, on freedom of movement), which have been introduced by Ukraine to maintain the country’s defense and protect territorial integrity, to combat terrorists, into the constitutional field, in accordance with Art. 64 of the Constitution;
– To eliminate preconditions for possible and reasonable claims against the state in national and international courts, with the subsequent satisfaction of damages caused to individuals and legal entities at the expense of the state budget of Ukraine;
– To establish a legal framework for international legal responsibility of Russia for massive human rights violations in Donbas;
– To eliminate preconditions for the pro-Russian interpretation of the situation in Ukraine as an internal conflict.

5. Complete termination of economic relations with the territories occupied by Russia. Prohibition of any economic relations with the occupational authorities and business entities, operating in the occupied territories, should be imposed. Economic sanctions for violation of this ban should be introduced. Criminal liability for collaboration with the occupational authorities should be introduced.

– Economic degradation of the occupied territories;
– To force Russia to invest its own resources into the life-sustaining of the region, thus undermining the Russian economy;
– To form the social protest base among the civilian population, in order to create social instability, to undermine the system of occupational governance of ‘DNR/LNR’;
– To motivate collaborators to flee from Ukraine to Russia after the liberation of the occupied territories.

6. Establishment of the State Logistics Center, in order to minimize losses caused by the termination of economic ties with Donbas and Russia.

– To assist big business and entrepreneurs in their reorganization of supply and distribution chains, in regards to the loss of economic relations with the occupied territories and the Russian Federation;
– Coordination of public policy for the substitution of resources and distribution channels associated with the Russian Federation and the occupied territories (including Crimea).

7. All state bodies of Ukraine have to analyze possibilities to weaken Russia in their own respective spheres of competence, and to prepare a comprehensive program on the non-military weakening of the aggressor.

– Non-military weakening of Russia in all areas of its activities, especially in those related to Ukraine.

8. Change of forcible actions: from the tactics of war to the tactics of sabotage and subversion: kidnapping of terrorist leaders and their supporters, sabotage at strategic sites, development of ‘guerilla movement’ in the occupied territories and in the territory of Russia.

– To transfer forcible and military operations into enemy territory;
– Increased morale of Ukrainian patriots living in the free and the occupied territories, as well as in Russia itself.

9. Destruction of TV towers and other technical means of broadcasting, operating in the occupied territories. Jamming of the electronic media that broadcast illegally on our frequencies. Simultaneous increase of Ukrainian informational presence in the occupied territories, including special broadcast aimed at occupied territory, frontline areas, enemy territory.

10. Creating a loyal system of travel regime between the territories controlled by Ukraine and occupied territories, for the citizens of Ukraine who have or had been registered in the occupied territories after their operative check for involvement in terrorism: in the appropriate unified computer database of the Security service and the Ministry of Interior. If this database does not exist, it should be created. Everything but arms and drugs is allowed to bring out from the occupied territories; only limited amount of food and money is allowed to bring into the occupied territories.

– To preserve the channel of interpersonal communication among the relatives;
– Creation of ideological and propaganda factor of humanitarian support of residents of the occupied territories by the people of free Ukraine.
– To preserve the channel of interpersonal delivery of positive information about Ukraine to the occupied territories.

11. Creation of housing and jobs for the displaced. The relevant and comprehensive government program should be adopted and given a priority status for all government bodies. Development of a registry of vacant houses in the villages of Ukraine for the temporary relocation of displaced residents of Donbas who are in the need of housing.

– Economic deterioration of the occupied territories;
– Mitigation of the social consequences of occupation for the persons displaced from Donbas;
– Development of the Ukrainian rural areas and agro-industrial complex of Ukraine.
– Creating jobs for productions compensating the termination of economic ties with Russia and the Donbas (e.g. – bioenergy).

12. Creating a preferential economic regime for displaced persons. Special credit conditions for housing. This can even include the option of the payment of compensation for lost housing or payment of the first installment of the loan for the purchase of property (on account of transfer of ownership of abandoned housing in the occupied territories). Preferential regime of doing business for displaced persons should be introduced. It should be beneficial, profitable, for people to leave the occupied territories.

– Mitigate the social consequences of occupation for the persons displaced from Donbas and their social rehabilitation;
– Stimulate the construction industry and affiliated industries of Ukraine;
– Creation of database of property in the occupied territories, which, after the liberation from the occupants, can be used to settle the people from other regions of Ukraine, thus making adjustments, to the national (ethnic) structure of Donbas.
– Social rehabilitation of internally displaced persons.

13. Create a special investment regime and preferential regime of doing business in Donbas territories, which are controlled by Ukrainian authorities.

– Economic and social rehabilitation of Donbas;
– Creation of that model of new Ukraine, which would make people of Donbas to believe in the positive changes in Ukraine, in the territories closest to the occupied ones.

14. Adoption of the law on the special status of the territories of Donbas (controlled by Ukraine), establishing possibilities of pilot introduction of the new models of organization and functioning of the government and other institutions of the political and socio-economic life of society, aimed to improve the lives of citizens of Ukraine.

– To create the legislative conditions for the reorganization of authorities and the accelerated social and economic reforms;
– To strengthen the governance of these areas;
– Change of local political elites;
– Real and rapid improvement in people’s lives.

15. Establishment of a central body of executive power (ministry or committee) for the issues of the occupied territories to coordinate all activities related to the implementation of this Strategy and of the Strategy for Return of Crimea.

– To coordinate activities of state bodies in the implementation of this Strategy.

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  1. Avatar Dagwood Bumstead says:

    Hear, hear! A similar approach should be taken with regard to the Crimea.

  2. Avatar puttypants says:

    Too long and confusing to read. It needs editing badly. It sounds like they’re giving up those territories because they can’t fight Russia. What will they do when Russia starts taking over Kharkiv, Mauripol, Odesa etc?

    1. Avatar Czech Friend says:

      that’s right! And it is the smart thing to do at the moment! Give Putin a nice Pyrrhic victory wrapped in disaster and instability.

      1. Avatar puttypants says:

        If they give up supplying them with gas and electricity Putin will stop supplying gas to Ukraine. They are between a rock and a hard place. They need to go to alternative energy NOW to supplement their gas needs. And nuclear energy. I know how they hate to do this based on Chernobyl but get a good American company to help. Ukraine needs to do something drastic and green. They’ll see environmentalists come around to help. It’s obvious they’ll get no help from oil companies as they’re with whomever has the stuff.

        1. Avatar kievjoy says:

          We’re trying to get wind generators for our house, with the annex being heated by electric the bills are astrominical, but we just can’t find anyone in Ukraine who seems to do it.

          1. Avatar Dagwood Bumstead says:

            Have you thought of solar panels? If you’re handy with tools you can probably install them yourself.

          2. Avatar kievjoy says:

            Don’t get enough sunshine in winter. Have a little solar toy on the window sill and sometimes in winter it won’t move for days (it’s on the side of the house where we get most sunshine).

          3. Avatar puttypants says:

            Hi Kievjoy, I understand that China makes very inexpensive solar panels. Also one small windmill will take care of your property and even some of your neighbors. I haven’t been to Ukraine for a long time but I remember there is a certain amount of wind. We have that combo all over the country. We of course also have nuclear energy and Hydro. Also better insulation of your property. You can even use newspapers for that and plastic over your windows. Im in Minnesota. Our flat is on the south side of the building. In the winter on sunny days our flat gets too warm we have to open windows In fact our flat is so warm most days that I turn off the heat….that’s because the place is so well insulated. Believe me we get very little sunshine in Minnesota during the winter. We’ve had so many more cloudy days than sunny ones. Solar panels can also store heat. This fighting over oil and gas is crazy and Ukraine can’t afford to be in that game. In regards to China and their energy panels you should probably check with your embassy. Show up all those people in the West how modern you are.

          4. Avatar puttypants says:

            Frankly, I wish Ukraine could just go green …default on their loans and start all over again. I don’t know if anyone is really helping Ukraine. How do they pay back the loans they already owe and get new ones when their economy is devastated?. They need a clean new slate. Their is no doubt they need protectorite countries to help them but I don’t think Germany, France or the EU are gonna do much but talk. They all have too much invested in Russia. The USA is undependable too as you can see. Ukraine needs to find the friends they have and get stocked up on weapons and well trained soldiers like Israel or they will continue to be at the mercy of Russia. Make sure people running the country are the smartest, most honest and have wisdom. They also have to be cunning and great negotiators. Get a great PR section going to tell Ukraine’s story all the time. In the USSR everyone just gave all the credit to Russia for anything good or the talent coming out of the ex-soviet people. It’s time Ukraine started telling their stories. It was Tolstoy, and Pasternak that romantized Russia. Ukraine needs just a couple of great movies that are shown all over the world to become loved. It’s really that simple. Taras Bulba by Hohol….such a great war and love story. Another one during WW2. I have lots of ideas about what it should be like. Use some beautiful male actor like Leo Dicaprio and a Ukrainian beauty that can act as love interest. Love in the time of war!
            Do a picture book on Ukrainian houses…Old ones from before the communist revolution. Did you ever see the movie Kolya…it was beautiful. I think it was also Russian not sure.

          5. Avatar kievjoy says:

            Wind would be no problem, it’s the sun we have the problems with in the winter. Have a friend from Sweden who came here to try to start a wind energy business and it was blocked at the time. he’s looking into it, but still doesn’t think they are that available here yet. I know about the wind energy thing, in London a few years back they built a housing estate all wind energy and it was very successful. it’s just trying to get hold of them. Len looked on the internet and there was only one called Ali Baba. He wrote to them several times, over the last few months, but haven’t heard anything.

          6. Avatar puttypants says:

            Kievjoy I’ll do some investigating. I’m thinking maybe get a group together and start a small business and get investors from all over the world on a website such as kickstarter. I’ll have to talk to some people who understand investments and see what ideas we can come up with. Do you know who blocked the wind energy business? Would there be any good reason to block it now? I’ll also talk to Ukrainian embassy here in the states to see what the environment towards alternatives is like in Ukraine. ..Are there any insulation businesses in Ukraine that are up and running?

          7. Avatar kievjoy says:

            Insulation isn’t such a problem. When a house is built they are built automatically with double walls. Many people now put in that insulation foam between the two walls. I believe it was the power companies who stopped the wind turbine company from getting up and running. We did find what we thought was a wind turbine company a few weeks ago, but turned out they’d imported the turbine they had and, from the sound of it, it wasn’t put in properly and doesn’t work correctly.

          8. Avatar puttypants says:

            So you’d need experts to installation/operation training.

          9. Avatar kievjoy says:

            Unfortunately, yes.

          10. Avatar puttypants says:

            Give me some time. Do you know of companies around Ukraine that may have an expertise installation? Can you check? That would make the most sense. I think Denmark or Sweden? If you can check out countries around you who may produce windmills that would be great. Let me know who they are. This could mean huge jobs in Ukraine. I will work on my end. We need a plan to present to investors. Most people in the cities live in apartments in Ukraine? Country small houses. Maybe start with government bldgs? I don’t know. Find people in Ukraine who may know of places in production.

          11. Avatar kievjoy says:

            I did say before that we have looked and can’t find any apart from Ali-Baba. We have checked with them, but they haven’t answered.

          12. Avatar crlos3 says:

            Ali Baba does not sell anything. It is an information site for manufacturers in China. You have manufactures in your country that would seem to be quite capable of making wind generators. Better to encourage them to do just that. Not only would it provide energy but badly needed jobs as well. Financing such an operation should not be a big problem as I believe that most of the necessary tooling is already there. We are forming an NGO to go there in the next few months and would be interested in helping to develop such an industry.

    2. Avatar Evelyn Myketa Livingston says:

      At what point, realistically, would you say that Ukraine should stop providing occupied territories with gas, electricity, etc. That is the meaning of independence they have proclaimed.

      1. Avatar kievjoy says:

        We have tried and Russia cut us off (we had enough in storage to keep the country going for a while). Energy is Russia’s main weapon.

    3. Avatar kievjoy says:

      It sounds as if they don’t know who’se side their on. A lot of the things have already been done. LNR and DNR are already recognised as terrorists.

  3. Avatar Czech Friend says:

    Lot’s of valid points I couldn’t agree more with! Especially the transition of Ukraine from military operation to a HYBRID war.

    But the reality is this. EU and US will not officially help Ukraine at the time when it needs the most i.e. NOW. Meaning Ukraine must choose its battles carefuly. Cutting of Donbas may be painful but the best strategic step for now provided Ukraine can create a new provisional fortified border.

    And yes rather than being on the defense there is much need to start subversion and guerilla warfare against Putinistan. Attack them where it hurts, kidnap high profile mafia from Putin’s regime.

    Simply put do not let them breathe.

  4. Jim Jim says:

    A lot of good ideas are presented but a key question remains: How to force Russia to cease hostilities? It seems that they are hell bent on gaining territory through military means.

    1. Avatar Czech Friend says:

      make sure it DOES hurt them when they do attack. Targeting their most valued assets in terms of equipment and military personel- that is what the subversion tactics and guerilla warfare points talk about.