Toward a diplomatic resolution of the Ukraine crisis

The Ukraine crisis remains in a highly dangerous phase. Escalating violence on the ground in Ukraine and fears of a descent into a more intense confrontation between Ukraine and Russia have focused the world’s attention.

Despite these tensions, there is reason to believe that all the major parties to the dispute are open to a non-military solution if satisfactory terms can be devised. However, finding those terms has not been easy. A bitter information war obscures ground truth, deepening the gulf between Russia on the one hand and the United States and Europe on the other. Voices on each side exaggerate the objectives of the other. Meanwhile, the challenges of reconciliation and building a stable, prosperous Ukraine mount, the longer the violence continues. People in Eastern Ukraine, whatever their political allegiances, suffer, most the innocent victims of disputes and policies in which they have little voice.

The Ukraine crisis will ultimately end with a diplomatic solution. The only question is how much devastation will occur, and how many future grievances will be born and nurtured, before diplomacy will be able to resolve the crisis. As always, a diplomatic solution will require all sides to make concessions and to focus on their essential needs, not on ideal outcomes or unconditional victory.

We are not privy to the confidential discussions between our governments. It would help whatever diplomacy may be underway if the public debate in both Russia and the West were focused on not so much fixing blame and stoking passions as finding ways to reduce the risk of further escalation and end the crisis. In that spirit, a group of high-ranking Russian and American experts with a strong experience in executive and legislative branches of power and analysis of international relations, with the generous support of the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Carnegie Corporation of New York and Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO) recently met outside Helsinki on an island retreat called Boisto to consider the Ukraine crisis and a way forward. Following is the fruit of that session, a set of issues for a high-level U.S.-Russian dialogue, which should be part of a larger discussion that must include Ukrainian as well as European representatives. The issues could become a framework for searching the way for resolving the crisis. We think it especially notable that the group focused part of its efforts on the terms for an enduring and verifiable cease-fire with significant international participation. Obviously, much tough diplomacy would be required to reach agreement on all the issues. But it is time to reinforce the diplomatic effort, starting with a cease-fire, as outlined in the document below.

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Boisto agenda

Elements of an enduring, verifiable ceasefire

1. Ceasefire and ceasefire monitoring by OSCE

2. Formation and deployment of a UN-authorized peacekeeping mission under Chapter 7

3. Withdrawal of regular army units to an agreed distance from conflict zones

4. Removal of National Guard units from Donetsk and Lugansk regions

5. Establishment of effective border control and halt of illegal trans-border transit of military equipment and personnel

6. Agreed limits on significant armed forces concentration in the vicinity of the Russian-Ukrainian border

7. Confidence-building measures under OSCE auspices

8. Verified demilitarization of illegal armed groups on both sides under OSCE auspices

9. Formation of new law enforcement forces in the conflict zone

Humanitarian and legal issues

10. Return of and humanitarian assistance for refugees and IDPs

11. Compensation for property loses and reconstruction of housing and commercial property

12. Credible investigation of crimes committed during the crisis

13. Amnesty for combatants not involved in military crimes during hostilities

Economic relations

14. Preserving Russian-Ukrainian economic relations, including defense industry cooperation in view of DCFTA implementation and other arrangements

15. Enhancement of energy-related infrastructure and transportation networks

16. International measures against illegal siphoning of gas transit

17. Mutual guarantee for current status of labor migrants

Social and cultural issues

18. Protection of the status of the Russian language and of traditional cultural ties between Russia and Ukraine

19. Free access to mass media and television, including Russian mass media and television

Crimea

20. Discussion of the settlement of legal issues pertaining to the status of Crimea

21. Guarantee of uninterrupted water and energy supplies

22. Protection of the rights of ethnic minorities

23. Discussion of access by Ukrainian companies to development of offshore oil and gas reserves

International status of Ukraine

24. Mutual respect for the non-bloc status of Ukraine as stipulated by Ukrainian legislation

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Boisto working-group. List of participants*

American Participants

1. Thomas Graham – Co-chair of the Group, Managing Director, Kissinger Associates; former Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Russia, National Security Council staff (2004–2007)

2. Andrew Weiss, Vice President for Studies, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; former Director for Russian, Ukrainian, and Eurasian Affairs, National Security Council staff (1998–2001)

3. Deana Arsenian, Vice President, International Program and Director, Russia Program, Carnegie Corporation of New York

4. Rajan Menon, Anne and Bernard Spitzer Professor of Political Science, Colin Powell School, City College of New York/City University of New York

5. Robert Nurick, Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council

6. Jack Snyder, Robert and Renee Belfer Professor of International Relations, Political Science Department, Columbia University

Russian participants

1. Alexander Dynkin – Co-chair of the Group, Director of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO), Advisor to the Prime-Minister of Russia (1998–1999)

2. Aleksey Arbatov – Head of the Center for International Security at IMEMO, Deputy Chairman of the Defense Committee of the State Duma of Russian Federation (1995–2003)

3. Vyacheslav Trubnikov – Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, member of IMEMO Board of Directors, Director of Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (1996 – 2000), First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia (2000–2004), Four-star General, awarded with Hero of the Russian Federation Medal

4. Victor Kremenyuk – Deputy Director of the Institute of U.S. and Canadian Studies

5. Artem Malgin – Vice-Rector of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO-University)

6. Feodor Voitolovsky – Deputy Director of IMEMO

7. Andrey Ryabov – Editor in Chief of “World Economy and International Relations” monthly journal

*All individuals participated in this working group as individuals. The affiliations are for purposes of identification only and are not intended to signify endorsement of this document by anyone other than those listed above.

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