Ukraine looks to redefine conflict, - Andrew Wilson

Source : 112 Ukraine

Renaming Donbas war could bolster suppport for Kyiv, but carries substantial risks
22:13, 24 June 2017

112 Ukraine TV channel launches a new series of live interviews. Andrew Wilson exclusively for 112 International Inside.

Elina Beketova, 112 Ukraine TV channel TV presenter, spoke to Andrew Wilson, a Senior Policy Fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, and Professor in Ukrainian studies at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies at University College London, from London. He knows a lot about Ukraine, wrote several books on Donbas conflict. Andrew was in Kyiv during the Revolution of Dignity in 2014.

- These days we have a discussion in Ukraine that appeared after the statement of National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchynov. He believes Ukraine needs to finish the Anti-Terrorist Operation and move to a new format of protecting the country from the hybrid war with Russia. According to various media the new bill stands for the recognition of certain regions of Donbas as occupied territories. What could be the reaction of our Western partners if ATO will be substituted by other operation and these territories will be recognized as occupied? Will it help to bring control to the territories faster or not?

 - Well, three points. One is that ATO is a terrible name. This is an undeclared war, and you don't call your opponents terrorists in any way even if many of them are. You don’t stigmatize the entire population of the region. Second point – if the ATO were finished, this would no longer be the occupied territory. But that is extremely unlikely. It would only be possible if Russia withdrew it’s military, economic and other support for the rebel republics, which clearly is pretty unlikely. Unless there is some kind of strategic changing in Moscow. It isn’t a realistic prospect that ATO could be finished and Ukraine can organize its elections currently occupied Donbas region.

- If ATO is given another name like hybrid war or any other term for it, will it help?

- Yes. I think it would. When the Kyiv control over the key territories is reestablished, re-labeling would help. Talking about the territories which are occupied , which is the third point, yes, it makes some sense. It would be healthier to be a lot more honest about the terminology, particularly about Russia’s role here – it’s not a mediator, it’s an aggressor. But the logical color of that is that if you use the word “occupation” you have to state the name of the occupier. And obviously there are many more problems with Ukraine that are going all the way from labeling the current conflict an “ATO” to calling it a war. Most obvious problem is Russia being much more constrained in its actions. So I would advocate that some forms of relabeling might be dangerous.

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