The growing sense that the format of negotiation processes over the Donbas conundrum needs, at least adaptations and, ideally, a complete overhaul was confirmed by our closed Round Table in Vienna on 26 May, 2021. The event reached out to Rada deputies from the area, as well as Ukrainian specialists and pundits. Pro-government and opposition voices converged on the point that only an intra-Ukrainian civic dialogue can prevent the final separation of the areas not under Ukrainian control. As Ukrainian experts maintained, the politics of separation pursued by previous and continued by the current administration are bound to lead to a “Little Ukraine” (the Ukrainian core area minus Crimea and the Donbas), bordering on a Russian quasi-state with a distinct social and political identity outside the territory of the RF. Incidentally, this conforms to a general pattern occurring in the post-Soviet space. If this is true, the present discussions in the Minsk and Normandy format boil down to a denial of realities that cannot be wound back or overturned.
The Round Table was held under the auspices of ICEUR-Vienna and the Institute for Peace Support and Conflict Management, Austrian Ministry of Defense