Since declaring independence in 1991, government corruption and economic turbulence have contributed to political unrest in Ukraine. With previous protests yielding little structural change, many Ukrainians have grown frustrated with the lack of action on promised reforms and are increasingly looking to EU integration as a way to move forward. In November 2013, deep political unrest erupted in the Euromaidan protests after former President Viktor Yanukovych abandoned an agreement that would have brought Ukraine economically closer to the EU and instead accepted a $15 billion bailout from Russia. These protests erupted into the 2014 Ukrainian Revolution, which resulted in the ousting of Yanukovych and progress towards increased EU integration. These new EU-friendly policies kindled tensions with pro-Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine, who subsequently rebelled against the central Kyiv government by declaring autonomy through internationally-disputed referendums in March/May 2014. Tensions quickly escalated into armed conflict in March 2014 following Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the pro-Russian separatist takeover of the Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts in the Donbass region. While the conflict settled into a precarious stalemate after the Minsk II Protocol was signed in February 2015, scattered skirmishes in Eastern Ukraine along with the Ukrainian people’s continued dissatisfaction with the central Kyiv government pose a risk for a resurgence of violent conflict.

Ukraine – Conflict Risk Diagnostic 2016