The “Frozen Conflict Perspective” in Eastern Ukraine and its Influence on Identity Construction

Although socially and politically constructed, the self-identification of the separatist regions in the east of Ukraine and their inhabitants can have a significant influence on the conflict resolution process. Through an analysis of identity construction in Donbas via the self-perceptions of residents of both the controlled and the uncontrolled territories, and their views regarding the introduction of a “special status,” the author aims to answer the following question: Willa special status for the separatists’ territories facilitate conflict resolution, or is it a fixing agent for a constructed identity for territories that are experiencing political confrontations? The author argues that the frozen status of the conflict, in the event of the satisfaction of certain social needs, will lead to the deeper separation of the territories, while a special status within a unitary state will lead to the crystallization of their identity, transforming it from a local-cum-regional one to one with expressed features of a political national identity.

Keywords: Ukraine, Donbas, Identity construction, special status, “frozen conflict”

Authors: Hanna Shelest