The Ukraine War and the Nature of Russian Power

How Russia’s ‘de facto state playbook’ keeps ‘frozen’ conflicts warm

Author: Sophie Gueudet

This policy brief explores the proposition of a long-term “freeze” as a potential resolution to the conflict in Ukraine, wherein an armistice agreement would effectively solidify current frontlines as informal borders, perpetuating a state of crisis. Drawing on examples from unresolved territorial conflicts in eastern and south-east Europe, particularly those influenced by Russia’s “de facto state playbook,” the paper highlights the risks associated with such a strategy. It argues that while freezing the conflict may alleviate short-term pressures, it ultimately exposes Ukraine and neighboring regions to continued Russian interference and aggression.

The paper underscores the importance of understanding and addressing Russia’s tactics in maintaining de facto states to prevent the consolidation of Russian influence in the region. It urges policymakers to consider alternative strategies that counter Russian influence and promote durable security for Ukraine and Europe, rather than allowing the conflict to become a means for Russia to extend its power base.

Learn more about PeaceRep’s Ukraine programme