Donbas belongs to Ukraine, but with a number of serious reservations. That is how results of meeting of Normandy Quartet in Paris can be described. If you remove the polar views, we have the fact of verbal agreements on further actions of the parties in framework of the Minsk agreement.
It is obvious that Russia's attention is now largely shifted to Syria. But it doesn’t mean that Moscow have forgotten about Donbas. Syria is more likely to be an additional trump for Kremlin in solution of the Ukrainian question. Now, Moscow will be able to haggle. But it may not be necessary, because, judging by the statements that followed the Paris meeting, in fact, Kremlin gets all it wanted: ruined Donbas remains a part of Ukraine, still controlled by pro-Russian forces; silence on the annexation of the Crimea, which at the international level has been rarely remembered. The only thing that Putin did not get for the moment is removal or easing of sanctions imposed by the West against his country. But this is what we can expect in the case of fulfilling conditions of Minsk-2.
The only thing that can be expected in the nearest future, at least with some confidence – there will be less shooting in Donbas. As President Poroshenko said, compromise was reached not only on withdrawal of weapons caliber less than 100 mm, as agreed back in Minsk, but on withdrawal of tanks and other equipment. In fact, in case of implementation of the agreement, only small arms must remain on the contact line, which undoubtedly would lead to a reduction in the number of victims. But we all know how the other party is used to perform the treaty. So even here we can hope, but cannot rely on the word of a man, who has not kept it even once during all the conflict, starting from Crimea and allegations that the Russian military forces were not there.
Furthermore, according to Poroshenko, now the representatives of the OSCE, which after Paris will receive much more access to facilities throughout the occupied territory, including the Ukrainian-Russian border. Only the President forgot to specify that OSCE has such access formally since the signing of the Minsk-2, for more than half a year, and in fact it works exclusively in the buffer zone. Observers have access only to one checkpoint, where they don’t see any violations, and nobody knows what is happening on the other sections of the border. What are the reasons to believe that it is now going to be different?
The main stumbling block was the issue of elections in Donbas. It's all about the special status of the region, but now the elections have to go out there not like in the rest of the country. At least two problems appear. On the one hand, it is assigned to the separatists for November elections that they want to hold on to its own rules, and it is contrary to all the agreements and, as a result, is their failure. On the other - it is impossible to hold elections by the Ukrainian legislation, as elections in the rest of the Ukraine must pass for October 25, and it is not possible to organize them at uncontrolled territories. We decided to resolve a situation by adopting a separate law on elections in Donbas, which in this case will be held next year. Leaders of "DPR" and "LPR" themselves have allegedly expressed their willingness to act in such a scenario under two conditions - amnesty and recognition of their political organizations, parties, since only the parties have the right to nominate candidates. And in case of amnesty for militants, except for crimes against humanity, it will be interesting to see the Ministry of Justice registering those pariahs who, if found, will also receive the right to participate in the next parliamentary elections.
Many experts are already predicting that, the legalization of the Donbas militants through the Verkhovna Rada is, at least, difficult, if not impossible; especially in the run-up to elections. As a result, we can get two possible scenarios for further developments.
If the "DPR" and "LPR" is legalized through elections, Ukraine will receive all the uncontrolled Donbas, new bright politicians like Zakharchenko, Plotnitsky (current self-proclaimed leaders of LPR and DPR) and so on, who also will quite legally make policy solutions for the entire country. And along with them and the huge cost of maintaining and restoring Donbas, we have to renew all social payments and to rebuild infrastructure and industry in the region. It is exactly what many consider to be the real purpose of Putin in the organization of what is happening in eastern Ukraine - the conflict would become "completely internal". All the costs for the maintenance and restoration of the Donbas areas will be covered by Kyiv and politically, technically Ukrainian Donbas will serve as the Russian anchor for all countries.
If the agreement is no torn down, most likely, we will face the same that we have seen the previous year and a half - a periodic intensification of fighting with a lull in regular of Minsk or Paris talks.