Avakov Peace Plan: Good Intentions or Political Ambitions?

In April 2018 Arsen Avakov announced his peace plan which provides for a step-by-step return of certain districts of Luhansk and Donetsk regions (ORDLO). Currently, Avakov’s plan is a raw vision of the reintegration of ORDLO which, despite few advantages, does not take into account important security, economic and other details. Nevertheless, Avakov may use his peace plan both as an instrument of political bargaining with the Presidential Administration and his own political program in case Petro Poroshenko loses the election.


On April 16, 2018 the Minister of Internal Affairs Arsen Avakov proposed a plan for returning temporarily occupied territories in Donbas which he called “tactics of small steps which everyone applauds”. According to Avakov’s plan, the reintegration of ORDLO is carried out step-by-step starting from particular settlements separately (Horlivka or Novoazovsk district). In case of success, this reintegration model should spread through other occupied territories. Later, Avakov promised to work out a detailed plan in the nearest months.


Principal provisions of Avakov peace plan

Geopolitical dimension •          Ukraine restores its jurisdiction and state institutions in ORDLO;

•          Donbas cannot be returned to Ukraine in exchange for recognizing the annexation of Crimea;

•          Russia portrays Ukraine’s compromises in transition period as its political victory;

•          Russia demonstrates to the U.S. and the EU its willingness to be a constructive partner

Security and public order •          Borders of given settlements are taken under control of both UN peacekeepers and Ukrainian border guards;

•          Russian troops, mercenaries and illegal armed groups are withdrawn from settlements;

•          Transitional administration is formed by representatives elected in local elections;

•          Ukrainian policemen and representatives of local territorial communities carry out joint patrol in given settlements in transition period;

•          Ukrainian legal system is restored and local election is conducted in retaken territories

Amnesty and accountability •          Ukrainian parliament adopts a law on amnesty which covers all residents in ORDLO with the exception of persons who committed grave and war crimes;

•          Ukrainian parliament adopts a law on collaborators which defines to what extent each person is responsible for cooperation with the occupation administration

Human rights •          Ukrainian passports are issued to residents in liberated settlements after special verification procedures;

•          Residents in reintegrated territories are restricted in their rights to participate in parliamentary and presidential elections within 5-10 years

Economic sphere •          Special economic status is granted to reintegrated territories in transition period;

•          Reconstruction of reintegrated territories is funded by both Ukrainian state budget and assistance from Western donors (Russia is excluded from a list of potential donors);

•          Construction and reconstruction programs shall be funded through a representative of central authorities


Avakov’s plan is a raw document which contains a collection of ideas related to conflict resolution in Donbas. On the one hand, the peace plan has a number of provisions that are popular among a significant part of Ukrainian society (a law on collaborators, temporary restriction of voting rights). On the other hand, many Avakov’s ideas neither have sufficient economic foundations nor properly taken into account a security component in transition period.


SWOT analysis of Avakov peace plan



•          Plan requires relatively small UN resources (manpower and budget);

•          Transitional administration is formed which enjoys legitimacy from both central authorities and local population;

•          Reintegration does not provide for increasing influence of ORDLO on Ukraine’s domestic and foreign policy;

•          A balance is struck between amnesty and accountability with regards to events in ORDLO;

•          Central authorities control funding for reconstruction




•          A mechanism for disarming illegal armed groups is not specified;

•          International civilian and police personnel are not provided for;

•          Residents in ORDLO are temporarily discriminated in their voting rights;

•          Reconstruction programs take into account neither Ukraine’s financial capacities nor international donor’s willingness;

•          Reintegration model disregards economic ties between settlements in the occupied territories;

•          Interregional economic inequality emerges in transition period



•          Successful reintegration of given settlements may lead to a spillover effect upon other territories;

•          Russia’s influence may be decreased on post-conflict settlement;

•          Local population may increase their trust in central authorities




•          Illegal armed groups may go underground;

•          Law enforcement bodies may be incapable to ensure public order in transition period;

•          Ukrainian government will be subjected to West’s criticism for restricting residents in ORDLO in voting rights;

•          Ukraine’s state budget may be exhausted due to funding reconstruction programs;

•          Conflicts between regional elites may escalate as a result of growing economic imbalances


Time matters

Arsen Avakov picked a convenient time to announce his peace plan. First, Avakov proposed his ideas less than a year before the presidential election, thus demonstrating to Petro Poroshenko that he can be both his political rival and situational partner whose interests should be taken into account. Second, Avakov is interested in regaining some institutional control over the situation in the conflict zone which he had to give up in favour of the Joint Operational Headquarters and the president after the Joint Forces Operation was launched on April 30, 2018.

By doing so, Avakov is simultaneously preparing for two political scenarios by means of his peace plan. On the one hand, the minister of interior may use his peace plan as an instrument of political bargaining with the Presidential Administration in order to strengthen his influence on the situation in Donbas in case Poroshenko is reelected. On the other hand, if Poroshenko loses the election, Avakov may send a message to the West that he is a partner who proposes an alternative peace plan. Moreover, Avakov may position himself during the parliamentary election as a statesman who sets forth peace ideas shared by a part of Ukrainian society.