Copyright © 2024

The work of Euromaidan Press is supported by the International Renaissance Foundation

When referencing our materials, please include an active hyperlink to the Euromaidan Press material and a maximum 500-character extract of the story. To reprint anything longer, written permission must be acquired from [email protected].

Privacy and Cookie Policies.

Poroshenko redefines Donbas fighting so Kyiv can call things by their proper names

A tank of the Russian occupation force in the Ukrainian Donbas got stuck in a trench (Image:
A tank of the Russian occupation force in the Ukrainian Donbas got stuck in a trench (Image:
Poroshenko redefines Donbas fighting so Kyiv can call things by their proper names
Edited by: A. N.

Moscow commentators have noticed what few in the West have: Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s decision to change the format of his country’s military operation against pro-Moscow forces strengthens Kyiv’s legal position at home and abroad and allows his government to escape from euphemisms and call things by their proper names.

Ukrainian President Poroshenko shows military IDs of Russian officers captured in Donbas. Photo: screenshot from video

At the start of this month, in a follow on to decisions made earlier, Poroshenko declared that the anti-terrorist operation in the east was completed and would be succeeded by a military operation of the unified forces of Ukraine against the Russian invasion.

This change in nomenclature doesn’t mean that the conflict will necessarily intensify on the ground, but it does mean, Russian observers say, that Kyiv’s legal position at home will be regularized and strengthened and that Ukrainian officials can now speak more openly about Russian aggression and the right of Ukraine to resist it.

The Ukrainian General Staff had been pushing for this change since the start of the year, arguing that it would allow for the formation of a more clearly defined command structure in the region and the systematic use of the Ukrainian army in the Donbas because it would clarify some legal issues and promote effectiveness more generally.

The re-definition of the conflict is fully in accord with the law on reintegration of the Donbas adopted in January. The chief goal of that law is “the liberation of the specific occupied territories and the restoration of the territorial integrity of Ukraine.” Russia is labelled “the aggressor” and the so-called “DNR,” “LNR,” and Crimea called “temporarily-occupied territories.”

What Poroshenko’s order does is resolve the problem of the use of the Ukrainian army on the country’s own territory. Under Ukraine’s constitution, the army cannot be used on the territory of the country except to repel an invasion and under conditions of war. But since the Crimean Anschluss in 2014, Kyiv has not declared a state of war or even martial law.

The January law and now Poroshenko’s decree allows Kyiv to “’call things by their proper names,’” supporters say. The latter means that the Ukrainian military is involved in “a defensive war’” intended to “’free territories occupied by Russia.’” Kyiv at the official level had not been clear about that in the past.

Following the Russian intervention, Kyiv responded on the basis of its 2003 law “On the Struggle with Terrorism” which allowed the authorities to use force to protect the population but gave primary responsibility for doing so to the country’s security service rather than to the military.

In June 2014, two months after the fighting in the Donbas began, the Verkhovna Rada amended that law to give the military a larger role; but the amended measure specified that the army could be used on Ukrainian territory only with the explicit approval of the Ukrainian parliament.

Poroshenko’s action, however, gives the military primary responsibility and puts a new staff to coordinate its activity in the Donbas under his direct authority, thus reducing the role of the parliament while elevating his own.

Moscow has reacted angrily. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on May 3 told an Italian magazine that “the main aspect of the Ukrainian conflict is that Russia is not conducting a war with Ukraine and is not a participant in the conflict.” What Poroshenko’s action means is that now at the official level, Kyiv disputes both of those notions.

According to Ukrainian political analyst Vadym Karasev, this shift in Ukrainian policy is intended to freeze the conflict rather than to exacerbate it. “By calling Russia the aggressor, the Ukrainian side in fact is blocking the negotiating process,” something Kyiv has an interest in doing given the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections.

Read More:

Edited by: A. N.
You could close this page. Or you could join our community and help us produce more materials like this.  We keep our reporting open and accessible to everyone because we believe in the power of free information. This is why our small, cost-effective team depends on the support of readers like you to bring deliver timely news, quality analysis, and on-the-ground reports about Russia's war against Ukraine and Ukraine's struggle to build a democratic society. A little bit goes a long way: for as little as the cost of one cup of coffee a month, you can help build bridges between Ukraine and the rest of the world, plus become a co-creator and vote for topics we should cover next. Become a patron or see other ways to support. Become a Patron!

To suggest a correction or clarification, write to us here

You can also highlight the text and press Ctrl + Enter

Please leave your suggestions or corrections here

    Euromaidan Press

    We are an independent media outlet that relies solely on advertising revenue to sustain itself. We do not endorse or promote any products or services for financial gain. Therefore, we kindly ask for your support by disabling your ad blocker. Your assistance helps us continue providing quality content. Thank you!

    Related Posts