Mathieu BoulègueAssocié au sein du cabinet de conseil AESMA, vice-président du think tank stratégique Sogdiane

Huffington Post, 28 septembre 2015

Caught in a "no war, no peace" situation, Eastern Ukraine is slowly but relentlessly diving into a low-intensity conflict. From the onset of the crisis, barely two years ago, Ukraine has been at war with Russia over the territorial integrity of Crimea and separatist Donbas -- two fronts Kiev has to deal with simultaneously. Through massive, nationwide military efforts, a "war mentality" has slowly been implemented across the Ukrainian society: after six successive waves of mobilization, about 87,000 Ukrainian combatants are now mobilized, ranging from servicemen to paramilitary troops, in the Anti-Terrorist Operations (ATO) on the contact line in Donbas. On the other side of the ATO zone, Ukrainian military sources cite the presence of 33,000 separatist fighters helped by about 8,000 Russian soldiers directly in the "People's Republics" of Donetsk and Luhansk. 

Furthermore, 53,000 Russian troops would potentially be stationed on the Russian border. From the sheer number, Ukraine feels like a nation under siege. This holds particularly true when considering fears of Russian-backed separatism directly on Ukrainian territory, such as in Zakarpattia, on Moscow-engineered territories such as Novorossiya (though abandoned) and Bessarabia, as well as in neighboring countries like Moldova, with Transnistria and the autonomous region of Gagauzia. On top of this, Kiev denounces an encirclement by pro-Russian elements that could be, if activated, detrimental to national territorial integrity. These elements are echoed by the prejudice the conflict has brought upon Ukraine: the conflict officially left 8,000 dead (though unofficial reports place this number at 20,000) and 1.4 million people are considered internally-displaced. The very fabric of the Ukrainian society will thus have to cope with the logic of victimization the war has created.

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