By Beatrice Godefroy and Suleiman Mamutov
On July 22, 2020, representatives from Ukraine, Russia, and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) agreed to implement an enhanced ceasefire in eastern Ukraine. In the months that followed, ceasefire violations significantly decreased and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights reported zero conflict-related civilian casualties resulting from active hostilities throughout the duration of the year.
Unfortunately, these positive developments proved to be only temporary, with the conflict dynamic showing a reversing trend in the beginning of 2021, demonstrating once again that no armed conflict can ever truly be deemed “frozen.”
Faced with another failed ceasefire and with little prospect for a conflict settlement in the foreseeable future, the Ukrainian government should seek to improve the plight of civilians living along the contact line. Physical harm, psychological trauma, and destruction are not unavoidable consequences of conflict. They can and should be prevented. Civilian casualties should not be an everyday occurrence.