International Workshop 2018

To maintain security for its member states and citizens is clearly one of the fundamental purposes of the European Union, especially if security is defined as a low probability of damage to acquired values. The European Union prides itself in being a community founded on shared values among its members, and its European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) frequently refers to a vision of a ring of countries, sharing the EU’s fundamental values and objectives, while realising that the degree of commitment to common values may differ across the different partner countries.

In this sense, the ENP is, if anything, essentially a policy that seeks to achieve security for the European Union, its member states and citizens. Yet, it is equally clear that security for the European Union cannot be achieved without stability and resilience in its neighbourhood and beyond (the Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy, 2016).


The project Building Resilient States and Societies: EU’s Response to New Security Challenges in the European Neighbourhood Area will enhance, deepen and disseminate knowledge and understanding of a strategic approach to resilience in the EU Global Strategy and the European Neighbourhood Policy and promote discussion on EU’s policy to strengthen state and societal resilience in the European Neighbourhood through empowerment of civil society and public administration to act as the agents of change.


The international workshop ‘Strengthening State and Societal Resilience in the European Neighbourhood’ will be an integral part of the project designed on the principles of critical reflection and co-created learning with the objectives:

  • To discuss context-specific challenges to state and societal resilience that the EU faces in its neighbourhood and to inform the research agenda of European, national and local institutions and to improve the relationship building among local civil society, academia and state actors;
  • To contribute to the improvement of EU civilian actions in EU member states and  partner countries with the engagement of multiple actors (academic, policy community, media and civil society) with particular focus on the encouragement of participation of women in security policy making;
  •  To contribute to informing institutional and policy developments in EU member states and partner countries on how to support societies to become more resilient through key categories of EU intervention, such as engagement with civil society, democratization of security governance, security sector reform, human rights and also contributing to public accountability of governments in ENP countries to their citizens;
  •  Finally, to equally important is to enhance the linkage between research and research-led teaching and evidence-based policy-making in European Security studies.


The Workshop is closely linked with Research component of the proposed project since it will engage its principal investigators. During Workshop which will be supplemented with online discussions and consultations, we will clarify the concept of resilience and how it can be applied to preventing, settlement and recovering from conflict; we will explore and explain the links between various types of conflict and resilience to them. We will develop a more comprehensive knowledge base of how state institutions and policies can be strengthened in their effectiveness and legitimacy to mitigate the risk of further conflict escalation and restore sustainable peace and stability.



The workshop participants – principal target group: 30 participants, including 5 teaching faculty, who are leading Ukrainian and European experts in the area of European Security (young faculty, military officers, security experts, representatives of civil society, think tanks and media).


The program of the workshop is made up of a series of lectures, panel discussions, briefings, simulation games and case studies. Lectures focus on specific issues of European security in the conflict management area. Participants will have the opportunity to discuss with speakers questions of particular concern to them. In panel discussions a specific issue will be analysed from different perspectives. In briefings, government officials will present public policy and security strategy and discuss them with the participants.



Abstracts of paper proposal of no more than 500 words to be presented during workshop should be sent to Prof. Tetyana Malyarenko (e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) and Prof. Stefan Wolff (e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). Please also enclose a CV, detailing relevant practical experience. Selection criteria include high-quality research and teaching potential, motivation and long-term interest in the topic. The project will give preference to public servants and civil society activists from Ukraine whose professional interests are related to crisis management and conflict resolution.


Jean Monnet Scholarships


A limited number of merit-based Jean Monnet scholarships may be granted to non-local participants, representing broader security community, such as academia, civil society, media and government, including the army, police and security organisations. There is no age/geographical limit, but we will give preference to younger participants with a practical experience in the areas of security and conflict. Scholarships will cover costs of hotel accommodation (single room, 3 nights) in Kyiv and buffet breakfast, lunches and dinners.


Deadline for submitting the application: November 15, 2018.

Since number of places are limited earlier applications are welcome.


Prof. Tetyana Malyarenko

Non-Governmental Organization ‘Ukrainian Institute for Crisis Management and Conflict Resolution’

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Prof. Stefan Wolff

Professor of International Security

Department of Political Science and International Studies

University of Birmingham


E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


The Dynamics of Emerging De-Facto States (Routledge, 2018)

As Russia headed to the polls Sunday to reelect President Vladimir Putin, there was one policy that they were implicitly reviewing. Many remember Russia’s Cold War strategy of invading, destabilizing and intervening in other countries’ governance. Putin has apparently once again made this his policy.

Consider, for instance, that since late 2013, Russian policy toward Ukraine has become ever more aggressive. First, the Kremlin pressured then-President Viktor Yanukovych not to sign a free-trade agreement with the European Union. When Yanukovych buckled to Russian pressure, Ukrainians overthrew him in the Maidan revolution of 2013-14 — to which Russia responded by annexing Crimea in March 2014. About the same time, Russia began supporting a separatist movement in Donbas, the easternmost part of Ukraine that includes the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk. Pro-Russian regimes are now firmly entrenched there; although Russia hasn’t annexed the area outright, neither does it look likely to withdraw its protection from the separatists anytime soon.

And that’s true even though since February 2014, France, Germany and Russia negotiated four “agreements” about the region — none of which has resulted in so much as a stable cease-fire between separatist and government forces.

Many think the crisis in Ukraine has signaled the start of a new Cold War. Our latest research, involving four years of extensive fieldwork, including interviews with officials on all sides, leads us to agree. Today, unnervingly for the West, “success” in Donbas has once again become the Kremlin’s model for destabilizing post-Soviet states — and perhaps beyond — when doing so would support Russia’s geopolitical interests.

Is geopolitics a zero-sum game?

Expert analysis of Russia’s intervention in Ukraine has largely divided into two schools of thought. The first is that Russia has acted opportunistically. The second is that we’re glimpsing a grand strategy to restore Russia’s global superpower status.

The latter view suggests that, as in the original Cold War, Russia is playing a worldwide zero-sum game in which it perceives that even the tiniest gain in influence for one side means an equivalent loss for the other. Our studyindicates that this is precisely the logic that Russia has been following in the Donbas region.

We traced Russian policies from late 2013 to early 2015, finding that with each new agreement, it focused on gaining a stronger status for the separatists, including predetermining a future “special status” should the territories be reintegrated into Ukraine. Within a year, Russia had managed to shift the discussion from a power transition with uncertain outcomes (in the February 2014 Kiev agreement) to an established role for the Donbas separatists in a constitutional reform process that would decentralize power (in the February 2015 Minsk II agreement).

How did Russia shift the discussion so powerfully? By getting its military more involved. Each time one of the agreements collapsed, Russia increased the stakes. When the first agreement collapsed, it supported separatist forces logistically and with military equipment as they roamed eastern Ukraine, temporarily occupying public buildings while not holding any territory permanently. Then the three powers negotiated the Geneva Declaration of April 2014 — another agreement that was never put into force.

At that point, Russia sent in military advisers and Russian soldiers who took leave from their units to fight in Ukraine, while delivering military hardware to the separatists who took control of eastern Ukraine. After intense fighting in July and August, the three powers negotiated the first Minsk Agreement in early September 2014, which did not result in a cease-fire. At this stage, Russia helped the separatists consolidate their territorial gains and begin building a state, complete with their own government, in the areas under their control.

Russia will use whatever means it deems necessary to stop its former satellite states from drifting away from its control

Why? We spoke with Ukrainian officials in Kiev; with officials in the Brussels E.U. and NATO headquarters; in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Vienna; and with Russian experts and analysts. What we learned is that Russia considers Ukraine a strategically important prize — and has escalated its policies to ensure that Ukraine will not drift out of its control.

Ukraine hasn’t been the only battleground on which Russia and the West have been fighting to impose their respective geopolitical visions. As one of us has demonstrated earlier, Armenia, Georgia and Moldova have similarly been pulled in different directions — east toward Russia and west toward the European Union and NATO. And in all these cases, Russia has increasingly shown that to prevent the drift westward, it will intervene by any means it deems necessary.

Russia appears, understandably, to want secure, settled and unambiguously pro-Russian neighbors. Of course, nations don’t always get what they want.

If it can’t have its ideal outcome, Russia would prefer an unstable neighbor over a stable one that is fully aligned with the West.

Russia has clearly concluded that Ukraine is not about to become a friendly and stable regime. Nor will Russia gain a friendly yet unstable Ukraine, the kind of government it arguably had under Yanukovych. Russia is therefore choosing to destabilize the current Ukrainian government — not just through the low-intensity Donbas conflict but also the renewed “gas war” between Russia and Ukraine.

Where next?

Western aims mirror Russia’s. The European Union and NATO also view Ukraine as too strategically valuable to concede. And so the two sides are escalating much as they did during the Cold War: Washington announced the sale of antitank missiles to Kiev just as Russia’s Gazprom threatened to cancel all its supply contracts to Ukraine.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose efforts have been vital in managing the crisis in Ukraine, described the Minsk II agreement of three years ago as “a glimmer of hope.” No longer. Russia apparently would rather tolerate instability than Western influence. That bodes ill for future East-West relations the world over, no matter what margin Putin wins by.

Since the conclusion of the Minsk II agreement in February 2015, the situation in eastern Ukraine has evolved into a seemingly permanent yet highly volatile state of “no peace, no war.” Set in the context of more fractious relations between Russia and the West, more entrenched divisions in Ukraine, and almost daily ceasefire violations, the conflict could yet again spiral out of control and prompt a resumption of high-intensity fighting in Ukraine or full-fledged military hostilities with Russia.

As in other post-Soviet conflicts to which it is often compared, such as those in Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Transnistria, the conflict in the Donbas pits the government in Kyiv against separatist rebels, with the former enjoying Western support while the latter are backed by Russia. Joined at the hip to their external partners, they are locked in a zero-sum game in which Minsk II has become unimplementable, and the continuing nonimplementation justifies each side’s uncompromising stance. Expecting more violent confrontation in the future, the parties to the conflict use the “no peace, no war” situation to try to consolidate their military positions while increasing their institutional and ideological hold on the territory they control.

Key to this has been a surge in military expenditures and production. According to official data, Ukraine’s military expenses grew to 5 percent of GDP in 2018, and the Ukrainian army’s troop strength has increased to 250,000. Matching those actions, the self-declared republics have also expanded military production and enlarged their fighting forces, in part through conscription into the “republican” armed forces.

The “no peace, no war situation” has driven a consolidation of positions in nonmilitary spheres as well. For Ukraine, it is critically important to strengthen state institutions and firm up its alliances with its Western partners. As one of the experts whom we interviewed suggested, “The reintegration of Donbas under Ukraine’s current weak institutions would likely lead to further disintegration of the country.”

For Russia, the challenges are similar. The status quo guarantees that the Kremlin has at least some degree of control over parts of Ukraine and prevents the country as a whole from drifting completely into the orbit of the West. This control, in turn, facilitates a certain “state-building” in the breakaway republics and the strengthening of links with Russia. The Russian writer Zakhar Prilepin, one of the ideologues of the Russian World (Russkiy mir) concept, explained the underlying logic of this: “The DPR and LPR are a trap through which Russia keeps Ukraine in its orbit. If we tear out the DPR and LPR, Ukraine will drift in another direction . . . and we will not [be] able to keep it under our influence.” Russian control, whether directly exercised over the breakaway republics or indirectly through them over Kyiv, is a central part of this geopolitical strategy.

The “no peace, no war situation” in eastern Ukraine thus has important implications, first and foremost for the national security of Ukraine. Short of further military escalation, the utility of the conflict in the Donbas as a lever that Russia can use to destabilize Ukraine has significantly decreased as a result of Kyiv’s policy of complete isolation of the rebel-controlled territories and minimizing their influence on the political and socioeconomic life of the rest of Ukraine. This has also created important breathing space for reformers in Kyiv to strengthen domestic institutions, reaffirm their pro-Western geopolitical orientation, and build up links with key allies, such as NATO and the EU.

The unavoidable flip side of isolation, however, is that it contributes to the alienation of people living in Donetsk and Luhansk from “mainland” Ukraine and vice versa, thereby magnifying the difficulties of any future reintegration. The downside of isolation is further compounded by the void left in the wake of Kyiv’s decision to cut off any interaction with the separatist areas: in the absence of any alternative, people and elites in the self-declared republics will become even more dependent on Russia, a trajectory reinforced by the disruption of economic ties with the rest of Ukraine and the restricted mobility of people into and out of the self-declared republics. In other words, reintegration becomes both less likely and more costly.

This domestic logic of no peace, no war locks Russia and the West into a similar zero-sum game. With each side competing for influence in Ukraine and fearing that any concession or compromise equates to a loss that results in an equivalent gain for the respective opponent, the current status quo is each side’s second-best, and currently only achievable, outcome. Thus there is little likelihood of restoring the full sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine in the near future.

The nonimplementation of Minsk II will lead either to a protracted but more stable status quo situation, as has been the case with Transnistria in Moldova, or, eventually, to the recognition of the self-declared republics, as in the cases of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia. For the moment, recognition appears unlikely: the continued existence of the self-proclaimed people’s republics in eastern Ukraine gives Moscow some leverage over Kyiv. Moscow can still ensure a level of instability that limits the domestic and foreign policy choices of the Ukrainian government. Equally, there is still some prospect of the breakaway areas’ reintegration on terms favorable to long-term Russian influence in the country, so this volatile status quo still offers some benefits to Russia.

A more stable status quo, however, also seems a long way away. The first signs of renewed and escalating confrontation between Russia and Ukraine and between Russia and the West are already visible: Putin’s presentation of new and more sophisticated weapons, U.S. missile sales to Ukraine, NATO’s proclamation of Ukraine as an “aspirant country,” Russia’s suspension of contracted gas supplies to Ukraine, and the West’s willingness to impose new sanctions and dismiss diplomats following the alleged Russian assassination attempt in the UK are all ominous signs that the conflict in Ukraine is rapidly regaining an international dimension while becoming more dangerous domestically.

As Russia and the West pursue their own interests in a Cold War–like struggle in which Ukraine is a pawn rather than a player, grave and increasing social, economic, and political costs will be imposed on the country and its people.


3 April 2018

External Links


Call for Participants

2018 Jean Monnet International Workshop

Kyiv, Ukraine, November 21-23, 2018 

Welcome to our updated Facebook webpage

Routledge Handbook of Ethnic Conflict, 2nd edition, edited by Karl Cordell, Stefan Wolff is published

‘Paramilitary Motivation in Ukraine: before Integration and Abolition’, Tetyana Malyarenko and David Galbreath, the Routledge Journal for Southeast European and Black Sea Studies

Tetyana Malyarenko, ‘Playing a Giveaway Game? The Undeclared Russia-Ukraine War in Donbas’