Sunday, October 19, 2014

Handling Frozen Conflicts: the Economic Angle

By Eric Livny (ISET) and Tom Coupe (KSE)

It now seems more and more likely that Eastern Donbass (the area currently controlled by the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics) will become a frozen conflict zone, a territory in which the Ukrainian government will have little power to enforce its laws and where slowly a parallel governance system, an unrecognized ‘quasi-state’, will emerge. In the absence of a viable military alternative, one option likely to be considered by Ukraine and its Western allies is to exercise ‘strategic patience’. As discussed in a Foreign Policy article by Lincoln Mitchell and Alexander Cooley, this approach has been until recently employed by Georgia and the US in their dealings with Abkhazia and South Ossetia. ‘Strategic patience’ consisted, according to Mitchell and Cooley, of:

“helping Georgia develop into a prosperous and democratic country under the assumption that once this happened the people of Abkhazia would naturally want to rejoin Georgia. In practice, therefore, StratPat meant doing nothing – certainly not building relationships with anyone in Abkhazia.”

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