Freezing the Donbas conflict: who foots the bill?

Damaged transformers in east Ukraine’s Donbass
Luhansk, Donbas region: transformers at a local electric power plant damaged beyond repair by pro-Russian separatists’ mortar fire (source: dpa)
  • The conflict in Ukraine could be “frozen” politically, but the bill for rebuilding Donbas would run prohibitively high
  • Neither Russia nor Ukraine nor the West are inclined to foot the bill
  • In a realistic scenario, Donbas may be neglected and remain a hellhole of statelessness and humanitarian disaster

Nobody is ready to assume responsibility for Donbas. Moscow could unilaterally incorporate the conquered parts of Luhansk and Donetsk into the territory of the Russian Federation, just as it did in the case of Crimea. That, however, would mean assuming responsibility for reconstruction of the ravaged territory. For Kiev, the issue of Donbas has become problematic as well. There is a consensus in Ukraine’s corridors of power that it would make no political or economic sense to commit to the monumental task of rebuilding the war zone.

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