The Separatist War in Donbas: A Violent Break-Up of Ukraine?

In Ukraine in Crisis, Nicolai Petro (ed.), Routledge, 2017.

35 Pages Posted: 27 Apr 2018

Date Written: June 6, 2017


Ukraine previously experienced significant regional political divisions, including separatism in Crimea and Donbas. However, in contrast to post-communist countries such as Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, and former Yugoslavia, prior to 2014 Ukraine was able to avoid a war and a break-up. This study examines the role of separatists, the Yanukovych government, the Maidan opposition and the Maidan government, far right organizations, Russia, the US, and the EU in this conflict. It uses a specially commissioned survey by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KIIS) in 2014 to analyse public support for separatism in Donbas, compared to other regions of Ukraine, and the major factors which affect such support. It concludes that all these actors contributed in various ways to the conflict in Donbas, which involved both a civil war and a direct Russian military intervention since August 2014. The study links this conflict to the “Euromaidan,” specifically, the government overthrow by means of the Maidan massacre, and the secession and Russia’s annexation of Crimea. The KIIS survey shows that support for separatism is much stronger in Donbas compared to other regions, with the exception of Crimea, and that the break-up of Ukraine is unlikely to extend to its other parts.

Keywords: Ukraine, conflict, war, comparative politics

Suggested Citation

Katchanovski, Ivan, The Separatist War in Donbas: A Violent Break-Up of Ukraine? (June 6, 2017). In Ukraine in Crisis, Nicolai Petro (ed.), Routledge, 2017.. Available at SSRN:

Ivan Katchanovski (Contact Author)

University of Ottawa ( email )

2292 Edwin Crescent
Ottawa, Ontario K2C 1H7


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