What Happened: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy announced Oct. 1 that Ukraine has agreed to a formula that envisions special status for the separatist regions of Donbas following local elections that would be supervised by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and international monitors, as well as conducted in accordance with Ukrainian law, the Kyiv Post reported.
Why It Matters: Zelenskiy's willingness to accept the so-called "Steinmeier Formula" to advance the negotiation process to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine represents a significant step toward reviving the long-stalled Normandy Four talks featuring Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany. Even so, the successful implementation of an agreement that would include a cease-fire and a pullback of Ukrainian and separatist troops along the entire line of contact is a long way off.
Background: Russia and Ukraine carried out a high-profile prisoner exchange on Sept. 7, with Russia and Ukraine each handing 35 people over to each other, including 24 Ukrainian sailors that Russia detained last year in a standoff in the Sea of Azov. The move has reenergized negotiations surrounding the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
- Watching for Signs of Progress in Eastern Ukraine (Sept. 23, 2019)
- Waiting for a Reality Check in Crimea, Five Years on (Feb. 27, 2019)
- Ukraine and Russia Take Their Conflict to the Sea (Sept. 24, 2018)