A Possible Step Toward Peace in Eastern Ukraine

Crisis Group Statement 
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A Possible Step Toward Peace in Eastern Ukraine

On 1 October, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy held a surprise press conference to announce that his government had signed on to the so-called Steinmeier formula, a mechanism for jump-starting implementation of the peace deal for parts of eastern Ukraine held by Russian-backed separatists since 2014.

Zelenskyy’s acceptance of the formula creates opportunities as well as risks. Since Moscow has already endorsed the formula’s terms, it could be a step toward resolving the longstanding conflict in Donbas. However, the Ukrainian government should proceed carefully to keep things on the right track. In particular, Kyiv will need a strategy to communicate to the loud chorus of domestic critics who have denounced the government’s decision as “capitulation”.