The War in Ukraine’s Donbas

Origins, Contexts, and the Future
The War in Ukraine's Donbas book cover
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Publication date: 
244 pages

This collective work analyzes the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, providing a coherent picture of Ukraine and Eastern Europe in the period 2013–2020. Giving voice to different social groups, scholarly communities and agencies relevant to Ukraine’s recent history, The War in Ukraine's Donbas goes beyond simplistic media interpretations that limit the analysis solely to Vladimir Putin and Russian aims to annex Ukraine. Instead, the authors identify the deeper roots linked to the autonomy and history of Donbas as a region. The contributions explore local society and traditions and the alienation from Ukraine caused by the events of Euromaidan, which saw the removal of the Donetsk-based president Viktor Yanukovych. Other chapters address the refugee crisis, the Minsk Accords in 2014 and the impact of the new president Volodymyr Zelensky and his efforts to bring the war to an end by negotiations among Russia, Ukraine, France, and Germany.

The book concludes with four proposals for a durable peace in Donbas: territorial power-sharing; the conversion of rebels into legitimate political parties; amnesty for all participants of the armed conflict; and a transitional period of several years until political institutions are fully re-established.


David R. Marples, Introduction

William Jay Risch, Prelude to War? The Maidan and Its Enemies in the Donbas

Alina Cherviatsova, Hybrid War and Hybrid Law: Minsk Agreements in the Context of International Law and Ukrainian Legislation

Kimitaka Matsuzato, The First Four Years of the Donetsk People’s Republic: The Differentiating Elites and Surkov’s Political Technologists

Oksana Mikheieva, Motivations of Pro-Russian and Pro-Ukrainian Combatants in the Context of the Russian Military Intervention in the Donbas

Nataliia Stepaniuk, Limited Statehood, Collective Action, and Reconfiguration of Citizenship in Wartime: Volunteer Engagement Amidst the Donbas War

Ernest Gyidel, Ukrainian Internally Displaced Persons  and the Future of Donbas

Oleksandr Melnyk, War Dead and (Inter)-Communal Ethics in the Russian-Ukrainian Borderlands: 2014–2018

Alla Hurska, Russia's Hybrid Strategy in the Sea of Azov: Divide and Antagonize

Sergey Sukhankin, Russian Private Military Contractors in the Donbas: Rehearsing Future Voyages

Serhiy Kudelia, Civil War Settlements and Conflict Resolution in the Donbas

List of Contributors


"It is here that Marples’s gifts for editing such a collection shine through. As the book’s title promises, the origins and contexts of the Donbas conflict are elucidated, and the final chapter effectively brings the work to a close by offering possible futures and a better state of peace for all involved—via a negotiated settlement based on power sharing, deployment of peacekeepers and election monitors, amnesty for combatants, and establishment of a truth commission."
"Overall, this book offers food for thought on a number of important issues relevant to understanding developments in the Donbas and their wider consequences. It is eminently accessible in a way which will make it of interest to more general readers as well as scholars and students of international relations, law and history. Although focused upon the Donbas region in the period prior to the start of the much greater conflict in Ukraine as a whole in 2022, many of the observations carry wider relevance in making sense of the current war."
“The War in Ukraine’s Donbas is an honest, professional, and convincing attempt to describe and analyze the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. While every chapter discusses a different issue, together they provide a coherent picture of Ukraine and Eastern Europe in the period 2013–2020. The volume gives a voice to different social groups, scholarly communities, and agencies relevant to Ukraine’s recent history.”