Many of today’s conflicts are often blurry and complex. Therefore, the second panel of DASICON 2017 gave an overview over the Ukrainian crisis and discussed its reasons and outlooks.
The panelists offered different and sometimes opposing perspectives on the current situation in Ukraine and elaborated on the European security architecture. The moderator, former Austrian minister of Defence Werner Fasslabend, started his opening remarks with citing Antonio Gramsci: “in the twilight, monsters are born”. We are still living in a “twilight zone”, a period of historical insecurity in Europe, which began with the dissolution of the old universalist empires, the Austrian-Hungarian monarchy, the end of the Tsarist rule in Russia, and the downfall of the Ottoman empire. Ever since, we have been searching for a new international order.
Mr Markedonov, from the Russian international affairs council, agreed with Mr Fasslabend in regards to this point. For him, the fall of the Soviet Union symbols this twilight zone and to a certain extent froreshadowed the conflicts we may observe now. Russia is a power that often only reacts to outside inputs, such as the expansion of NATO’s influence in Eastern Europe and to a status quo it is not particularly fond of. He furthermore was critical of the role Ukrainians took in the Minsk process. From his point of view, the Ukrainian side does not even want to implement the Minsk accords because of the fear becoming a “second Bosnia”: a dysfunctional state. Mr Robinson, a security expert from the RWR Advisory Group, on the other hand, disagreed with the notion of the United States pushing too far into Eastern Europe. According to him, “we’re in the freedom business”. He emphasised the importance of the financial sector in hybrid warfare.
Ambassador Sajdik, Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, and Mr Wehrschütz, chief correspondent for the Austrian state TV, the ORF in Ukraine, highlighted the importance of the OSCE mission. They both described the mission as essential for alleviating the sufferings of the civilian population, as a guarantor of reliable information. However, perhaps the most striking point about Amb. Sajdik’s description of the Minsk process was the fact that the civilian population on the ground is actually maintaining relations with the other side. They frequently cross the line of contact.
At the end, the panel gave a dire outlook. Despite the existence of important infrastructure to contain and manage the conflict, the resolution of the Ukrainian crisis remains dependent on political will. In addition to the lack thereof, the static nature of the conflict contributes to the development of the checkpoints into real borderlines. Furthermore, the question of Ukrainian oil and gas resources and its drilling stations located in the Black Sea might develop into a further focal point in the upcoming moths. Taking this pessimistic outlook into account, it seems we will continue to live in the twilight zone.