What’s new? Ukrainians in Donbas, the country’s eastern conflict zone, are in their fifth year of a humanitarian crisis deepened by Russian intervention – and also by Ukrainian government policies. Many complain that their country has forgotten about their plight and that the state no longer wants them as citizens.
Why does it matter? Russia’s withdrawal is necessary for Kyiv’s reintegration of Donbas – but not sufficient. Only if the region’s war-weary civilians are convinced that their government values their safety and prosperity are they likely to play an active role in that reintegration.
What should be done? Moscow and Kyiv must do more to protect civilians, in keeping with international humanitarian law and their commitments under the Minsk agreements. Kyiv can improve its chances of peaceful reintegration by restoring access to subsidies, easing restrictions on freedom of movement and trade, and compensating Donbas residents for property losses.