The Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine (TCG), composed of representatives from Russia, Ukraine and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, will meet via videoconference today to discuss a diplomatic resolution to the conflict in Ukraine’s Donbass region.
Despite a strong desire for resolution, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky fears that a peace settlement, which would possibly grant autonomy to the region, would allow Russia to intensify its infiltration of Ukrainian politics in a manner similar to its annexation of Crimea.
Kyiv recently modified its TCG delegation to exclude top representatives from the Russia-backed breakaway republics, a move perceived in Moscow as a plot to stack the talks with “convenient persons”. Russian negotiators have likewise accused Ukraine of undermining negotiations within TCG subgroups, citing a refusal to submit pertinent documents and repeated shell attacks along the contact line.
Expect Kyiv’s controversial delegation modification to threaten progress in the short-term. While a larger prisoner exchange is under discussion, such a deal will likely be postponed until the Ukrainian lockdown is lifted. The roots and lifespan of the conflict indicate that tensions will likely outlast any remote reconciliation—boosting the possibility of an ambiguous Ukrainian “Plan B”—although Zelensky has downplayed a proposal for a wall along the Russian border.
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Daniel is an analyst and editor on the Current Developments team. He contributes regularly to the Daily Brief, focusing primarily on European, Middle Eastern and sub-Saharan politics.