The war in Ukraine is about to complete four months on July 24. The invasion, called by Vladimir Putin a “special military operation”, began in February and has already left thousands dead, millions of refugees and billions of dollars in damage. As a result, the West is looking, financially and diplomatically, for ways to get Russia out of Ukrainian territory.
For economist Igor Lucena, a doctor in international relations from the University of Lisbon, there is a chance that the Ukrainian territory will be divided as a way of ending the conflict.
“Unfortunately, this possibility of having two Ukraines or even more is a reality, and I think we will be reliving some of what we saw in North Korea and especially in the division of Germany”, he explains.
On the other hand, professor at Inest (Institute of Strategic Studies), at UFF (Fluminense Federal University), Thomas Ferdinand Heye says he believes that the conquest of just part of Ukraine would not be satisfactory for Putin, even though no one knows exactly what the real goals of the Russian leader.
“[A divisão] it could even immediately diminish or cease hostilities, but the conflict would not be resolved. It would remain frozen or dormant until it hatches again,” he explains.
The UFF professor says that with “two Ukraines”, Russian actions have a chance to be considered commonplace. “The biggest risk is to normalize the absurdity of the crime committed by Russia by invading a sovereign country and ending its territorial integrity. For Ukrainians, there can only be one Ukraine”, he adds.
It is important to remember that in Ukraine there are the self-proclaimed “people’s republics” of Donetsk and Lugansk, which emerged in the first half of 2014 after protests by the pro-Western opposition in Ukraine and the change of leadership in Kiev. Currently, these breakaway regions encompass about a third of Donbass and the cities of Donetsk and Lugansk, capitals of the territories of the same name.
The consequences of “two Ukraines”
Despite believing that the fragmentation of Ukrainian territory could occur soon, Lucena, from the University of Lisbon, does not think that separating the country would be purposeful, because, although this could end the conflict, it would divide families, businesses and traditions.
“The culture is Ukrainian, even if it has more or less influences from Russia or Europe. We will be dividing a society that is already formalized. So, I think that would be a very negative example within the country”, he says.
Lucena also explains that the fragmentation of Ukraine would create an abyss of social inequality, because the most western or most northern side would have great support for reconstruction from the European Union, while the south or east would be under the regency and influence of Russia, without as much financial support and operational capacity.
Another question would be how the recognition of other countries in relation to the existence of “two Ukraines” would occur. According to Lucena, currently the Ukrainian territory is recognized by all nations and not by Russia, which could change with the fragmentation.
“There is no vision that they would actually be recognized, so there would be no trade agreements, no international financing, no representativeness of the leaders. All this would leave this part of this supposed new Ukraine or East Ukraine, the Donbass region, perhaps as a stateless region. from the international point of view of decisions and negotiations”, says the doctor from the Portuguese university.
In Heye’s opinion, the separation would not be fully accepted by the other nations: “[Um país dividido] would be strongly rejected by several powers in the international arena and by some developing countries”.
But the UFF professor reinforces that, in quantitative terms, Russia has the support or at least the sympathy of a much larger number of countries, which would make the creation of “two Ukraines” end up being recognized by a considerable portion the international community — even amid protests and support from world powers.
* Intern at R7under the supervision of Raphael Hakime