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Last Updated: 08/22/2014
Ukraine Conflict: Resolution through Negotiation
Sabrina Chikhi

This paper analyzes the Ukrainian crisis from an international perspective, drawing on the theories of realism, neo-colonialism, and structural functionalism. It posits the necessity to include all the conflicting parties in a negotiation process in order to secure a sustainable peace agreement and proposes a detailed negotiation framework.


The crisis in Ukraine has developed from an internal conflict to an international one because of the intervention of the Russian federation. The evolution of the situation demonstrated the incapacity of the international community to deal with it in a timely manner in order to prevent escalation and eventual stalemate. Despite the determination of the Ukrainian separatists to follow the Crimean example, Western countries are firmly opposing the Russian strategy to annex the oblasts of Donetsk and Luhansk for fear of geostrategic implications. As Ukraine has turned into a geopolitical battleground, the US and the European Union demonstrated an absolute lack of coordination in dealing with the conflict in its early phases. The Russian position also added to the complexity of the situation because of its punctual decisions as the crisis evolved.

Regardless of the outcome of the current crisis, I contend that a better understanding of the situation in Ukraine cannot be done from a unique perspective, or thanks to a level of analysis that eliminates the possible others. Yet for the purpose of this paper, I suggest to discuss the conflict from an international perspective in view of proposing a tentative resolution through international negotiations. With this objective in mind, this essay will be divided into two sections. While the first one is to provide a theoretical analysis of the conflict, the second part will delineate the importance of a third party’s intervention in the resolution process.

Theoretical Analysis

For a better understanding of the case object of this study, I propose to succinctly map the conflict and examine it through three main theories. Among the varieties of possibilities, I purposefully adapted Paul Wehr’s conflict mapping guide, and limited its scope to the following elements: the conflict background, the parties, the issues, and the context. As for the analysis, I simply focused on realism, neo-colonialism and structural functionalism as the main theoretical frameworks.

The conflict takes place in Ukraine. This country, independent from the Soviet Union since 1991, is located in Southeastern Europe. As a unitary state, it is divided into twenty-four oblasts (administrative units) of which Donetsk and Luhansk, bordered at the east by Russia. The crisis in the region started on November 21st, 2013 with the outburst of the protests against President Yanukovych’s government, after his refusal to ratify an association agreement with the European Union. It culminated with these two entities self-proclaimed independence, respectively in April 7th and 27th of 2014.

Many parties are currently involved in the conflict. For the sake of simplification, I am only considering the ones directly pertinent to my approach of the topic. The primary parties - i.e. the ones that directly oppose each other- are the state of Ukraine, represented by its acting President Turchhynov, and the separatist groups in the self-declared People’s Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk. The secondary parties, viz. the ones that directly benefit from the outcome of the conflict, are Russia, the European Union and the United States while the third parties are the European Union and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe both represented by their delegates.

The root-cause of the conflict is the separatist groups’ rebellion against the central government because of corruption and a struggling economy. The issue of sedition has been triggered by Kiev’s refusal to ratify the association agreement with the EU. This decision has directly jeopardized the unity of the country and stability of the region, especially that pro-Russian groups in Donetsk invited Moscow to annex their territory. Ukraine and Russia have strong assumption regarding each other’s political moves since the beginning of the crisis. Indeed, Kiev considers that Moscow is trying to destabilize the country, and take over part of its territory after it successfully annexed Crimea. While Russia justified the deployment of its troops, on the border with Ukraine, by the pretext of protecting the ethnic Russians living in the separatist region, the Ukrainian central government denounced the use of the Russian identity as a motive to justify Moscow’s involvement in the conflict for the purpose of annexing Donetsk and Luhansk, as it did with Crimea.

While the interest of Ukraine is to secure its territorial integrity, Russia’s seems to have shifted since the beginning of the crisis. In fact, it initially wanted to secure Kiev’s loyalty by ensuring the interim government did not ratify the trade agreement with the European Union to counter balance the one it currently has with Russia. This objective was to prevent Ukraine from strengthening its economic independence for fear of a possible adhesion to NATO. In the context of the relations between the two countries, it is important to underscore that, because of history, Russia wants to maintain its political influence on Ukraine, mainly through economic dependence.

The crisis which is in its escalatory phase started as an internal conflict, developed regionally before taking an international dimension. It became the case because of Russia’s military tactic and the intention of the self-proclaimed republics to join the Russian Federation. As the US and the EU refused to recognize these entities as autonomous, despite the referendum results, the international community openly engaged in the crisis. This is reflected by the Western unanimous position towards the independence proclamations, the support of the Ukrainian interim government and the incrementing sanctions imposed on Russian individuals and organizations. Regardless of the various interests motivating the western decision, simultaneous initiatives have been undertaken by the member-states of the European Union to the effect of peacefully resolving the conflict. The positions of the neighboring countries deeply impact the evolution of the crisis because the belligerents find in Russia and the EU the support needed to maintain their positions, especially that the United States is also involved.

It would be erroneous to believe that the Ukrainian conflict can be fully understood using one level of analysis or thanks to a unique theoretical approach. Yet, for the purpose of this essay, I will limit the discussion to the perspectives I consider the most useful to a better comprehension of the Ukrainian case. Accordingly, I propose to use realism, neo-colonialism and structural functionalism as frameworks of analysis.

From a realist perspective, the interests of the countries involved in the conflict are crucial to the comprehension of their current positions. While Ukraine is desperately working on maintaining its territorial integrity because of the economic significance of Donetsk and Luhansk, Russia’s national interest is to prevent any trade and military alliances with the EU and the NATO in order to maintain its political influence on this nation.

From the same perspective, the relative absence of a unified position concerning the application and the broadening of the sanction against Russia reflects how the economic relations between Moscow and the western capitals factor in their support of such measures. To illustrate this point, one has to consider how the countries which are heavily reliant on the Russian energy supplies have been reluctant to support sanctions, and how countries-like Spain, Italy and Greece- which started recovering from the financial crisis simply opposed them. And even despite the apparent agreement reached regarding the matter, the inability to decide on radical measures simply translates the self-interest of each European state as it relates to its economic partnership with the Russian Federation.

Because state-centrism and anarchy are key elements in the rationalist approach of international politics, it seems legitimate for all countries in the region to secure their survival in a dangerous and unstable environment. This is particularly true for Ukraine which fears to be dismantled by Russia, whose current president published in 1999 an article highlighting his ambition to turn his country into “a great economic power” (Evans, 2008, p 902). This theoretical approach considers that securing enough power and resources are the main goals of the states, which acting as rational actors. With this regards, all the countries in the European Union and Russia are motivated to secure trade agreements with Ukraine. On the one hand, Russia is fearful of Kiev’s alliance with the NATO, since, from a military perspective, it will be weakened by the presence of this eventual new member at its borders. For this reason, Russia did not hesitate to deploy its troops on the border to send a strong message to the acting president who is favorable to the adhesion to the EU. The whole situation reinforces the realist fundamental postulate about the uncertainty, the instability and the anarchy prevalent in the international system.

Giving supremacy of statesmanship over any other consideration, realist theorists argue that there is no room for ethics when dealing with other countries, because of the unpredictability of other nations. From this perspective, Russia, surprised by the rapprochement between Ukraine and the EU did not hesitate to initially support the separatists’ movement through direct assurance that it would be open to the annexation of the two oblasts and through the exhibition of its military presence in the borders as a supporting gesture. From the ethical perspective, Moscow did not only hesitate to sustain the movements considered as illegal according to the Ukrainian constitution, but also showed that her capability to violate the international law by doing so.

As introduced in the Leviathan, classical realism focuses on the impact of human nature on the social world. Accordingly, they consider human egoism as a direct cause of war because leaders can decide on it without having to fight for states’ survival. In the present case, “Putin’s actions have been guided by core values on the long-term goals whose general outlines were delineated even before he took office as the President of Russia. Putin has sought to reshape reality to fit his values and goals, with considerable success so far” (Evans, 2008, p 901). Building on this assessment of President Putin’s personality and the current state of the facts, Russia is not a situation where it has to fight for its survival. But, it seems that the personal ambition of its leader are among the key elements that caused the deployment of the Russian troops. In doing so, he simply showed his intention to wage war against a weaker neighbor.

In the case of structural realism, the Watlzian approach also considers that the states, which compose the international system, will do whatever is necessary to survive. Among the options are the alliances made by the weakest nations with the more powerful ones. This understanding of the international relations specifically applies to the move made by the Ukrainian government when it actively sought the economic agreements with Europe and when it applied to the NATO membership in 1994.

As Morgenthau and Waltz argued for the necessity of an international system build on bipolarity, instead of multi-polarity, it seems that the Ukrainian crisis would not have been possible in a bipolar system in which the US and Russia would have been the main superpowers. But, the emergence of the EU and its striving to secure its political and economic position as a third pole complicates the situation for countries like Ukraine which rapprochement with Europe is considered as a threat to the dominating Russia, which sees in the economic and political aspects the focal points of its durability.

In order to complement the theoretical analysis of the Ukrainian conflict, I see that the neo-colonialism theoretical concept is useful because I believe that countries that have been subjected to imperialist domination are still unable to curtail the influence maintained on their political and economic affairs, even after formal independence.

The concept of neocolonialism was first used in the 1961 edition of The New Statesman, and was described as “the most dangerous form of colonialism” (Rao, 2000). In his seminal work, Nkrumah considers neo-colonialism as:

“The worst form of imperialism. For those who practice it means power without responsibility, and for those who suffer from it, it means exploitation without redress. In the days of old-fashioned colonialism, the imperial power, the imperial power had at least to explain and justify at home the actions it was taking abroad. In the colony, those who served the ruling imperial power could at least look to its protection against any violent move by their opponents. With neo-colonialism neither is the case” (Kieh, 2012, p.166)

From a political perspective, the neo-colonized states are independent and sovereign, yet they remain dependent on the former imperial power economically, politically and even culturally. Culturally, the leaders of these states are the result of the formal education they had under the former colonial power educational system. This usually translates in their ideologies and in the way they conduct the state’s affairs. From an economic perspective, such countries remain bound by former accords with the central government of the former colonizer, or have preferential economic agreements in areas like trade and joint cooperation. For this reason, Harshe considers neo-colonialism as a “particular phase of imperialism and its associated web of domination and control” (Kieh, 2012, p.167).

In fact, since the ratification of the 1654 Treaty of Pereyaslavl, in which the suzerainty of Moscow over Ukraine was recognized, the country’s struggle for autonomy has been continuous. Yet, since its independence in 1991, Kiev could not totally free itself from the Russian economic domination imposed through its oil and gas company Gazprom which supplies Ukraine with no less than 75% of in natural gas and 80% of oil through long-term contracts. In fact, Moscow’s economic strategy to control the political class in Kiev essentially revolves around discounted natural gas price and trade accords. The disagreement of the two governments about transshipment and gas price issues, after the renewal on the Sevastopol naval in 2010, Ukraine was immediately subjected to trade sanctions. As a consequence, it turned to the EU to revive the economic agreements discussions. As the crisis about transshipment and gas prices increased between the two countries, in 2012, Russia exercised economic sanctions that lead Kiev to undertake trade negotiations with the EU.

Russia also heavily influences the politics of Ukraine through it political leadership. In fact since the election of pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych in 2010, the relations between the two countries improved qualitatively to the extent that Russia agreed to buy $15 billion of the Ukrainian debt. It is the internal crisis which led to his removal from power that resulted in the deterioration of the political relationship between the interim government and Moscow, which also did not approve of any of the potential presidential candidates.

From the above-mentioned, and from a post-colonial perspective, the situation in Ukraine reinforces the idea that the concept of post-colonialism “does not indicate the belief that colonialism is dead and buried, a matter of the past with no bearing on the present. Quite the contrary, it is a form of periodization which aggressively signals the centrality of colonialism to the entire historical period after it” (Wise, 2010). This effectively translates in the degree of interventionism Russia imposes on its neighbor with the main objective of serving its interests. There is for sure a shift in the strategy, yet tactics like economic sanction and military threat and political destabilization serve the purpose as efficiently as this was the case between colonial powers and colonized countries in Asia and Africa.

In agreement with Collin and Rhoads (2010, p182) who see that “the ideas neocolonialism and neo-liberalism as deriving to a great extent from the global economic interest of powerful nations like the United Kingdom and United States …through political leaders such as Margaret Thatcher (Thatcherism) and Ronald Reagan (Reaganism)”, I see in Russian political and economic strategies and tactics an extension of the Russian imperialism through President Putin. The Kremlin’s stance and intervention in the crisis through what I may label as “Putinism”.

In relation to the above-mentioned, it is clear that Russia’s behavior is a mere reflection of a neo-colonial approach to its relations with Ukraine. Through its stranglehold on its economy and its influence of the internal affairs of the country, it demonstrates that the “imperial struggle is not much defined by the direct battle of land through military conquests…” (Collin & Rhoads, 2010) as it is about maintaining a sphere of influence along the economic and political lines.

For a comprehensive theoretical analysis of the Ukrainian crisis, I suggest to look at situation from a structural functionalist perspective. Despite its decline in importance (Ritzer & Goodman, 2003, p.228), I see it suitable as an explanatory theory because it encompasses the limitations imposed by theories that consider the state as a unit of analysis and enables me to look into “large-scale social structures, and institutions of society, their relationships, and their constraining effects on actors” (Ritzer & Goodman, 2003, p.229). For the purpose of this study, I will not dissociate Parsons’ structural functionalism from Merton’s, nor will I focus on neo-functionalism. I will simply take the elements which will better help me discuss the case object of this study, especially as they relate to the European Union and its relation to the conflict.

To start with, I would like to underscore that functionalism “is manifestly not and has no pretentions to be a ‘theory’ in the strict social sense and we should be wary about any evaluation which rests its criticism on a lack of theoretical precision, particularly in the realm of prediction” (Tooze, 2014, p. 210). Yet, it is very useful as an approach to better understand an organization like the European Union and the way it dealt with the conflict in Ukraine.

The European Union, as a system composed of state-members, has the main function of meeting its need for survival as a global entity which holds a prominent place in the international arena. In order to do so, and with reference to Parson’s AGIL scheme, it has not only to adapt to its environment, but also attain its primary goals. From these two perspectives, it adapted to the rising influence of Russia on Ukraine by affirming its readiness to ratify an economic agreement with this country, and took steps to prevent the modification of the geopolitical map as Moscow showed its willingness to annex Donetsk and Luhansk. From a structural perspective, the EU has in place all the mechanisms needed to regulate the inter-relationships among its state members while sustaining their motivation to remain within this organization despite the economic crisis. In dealing with the situation in Ukraine, the different countries, despite the absence of unanimity concerning the sanctions against Russia, even the weakest economic states like Greece and Spain did not really oppose the decision. This was also the case for the countries which are heavily dependent on Gasprom for their energy supply. In reality, they are simply motivated by the competitive-advantage of being part of the Union, which offers all the state the economic and security guarantees needed for the stability of their nations.

Functionalism considers internalization as the means through which the system transfers its norms and values to the actors (Ritzer & Goodman, 2003, p. 235). The European nations, even in the pursuit of their individual interests, are also serving the ones of the EU by demonstrating that in the defense of democracy and the Ukrainian territorial integrity, they are also reinforcing the EU’s geopolitical stability. They also show that they act as a political block whose fundamental interests unite all its members. Thus, in this case, functionalism serves “the creation of world society because it is the only concept that breaks away from the long durance to the dogma of sovereign territorial division” (Tooze, 2014, p. 214).

Merton’s concepts of manifest and latent functions are also a helpful approach to the analysis of the conflict. Indeed, the European decision to impose and expand the economic sanctions against Russia is twofold, from this perspective. The manifest function has to do with the intended function of the sanctions. In this case, it consists of pressuring Russia to end its support of the separatist groups. Also the latent function of this decision has to do with the enabling Russia to impose and reinforce its presence as a party in the resolution of the conflict; thus reinforcing its international position as a powerful country.

Even if largely criticized, I think that approaching the Ukrainian conflict through the functionalist lens, adds to our understanding of the current social world as it relates to the indispensability of organizations like the European Union in the international system. Their usefulness is legitimized by “the order in which felt needs are met not only by the state, but by transnational functional organizations, structured on the ‘technological self-determination’ of the problem; the primary justification is the hope for solution of political conflict and elimination of war” (Tooze, 2014, p. 211). Even if functionalism is criticized for being too positive, this explanatory approach enables us to better understand the role of every actor representing the EU as the crisis evolves. Regardless of any economic consideration or political orientation, the cultural system embodied in this institution serves to reinforce the position of its state members in their endeavor to resolve the conflict.

Conflict Resolution through Negotiation

Since the purpose of this paper is not to investigate or discuss the level of Moscow’s involvement in the Ukrainian crisis, I contend that its resolution is problematic because of the Russian connection to conflict. Perceived as a spoiler, this country did not participate to the various intervention initiated by the European Union, and it is subjected to increasing economic sanctions affecting its citizens and economic organizations. Despite their divergence regarding the necessity of the application of such sanctions, the EU state members are trying to remain united about the necessity to exclude Russia from the negotiation process because they consider that Moscow will be exclusively motivated by its national interest (Collin & Rhoads, 2010, p. 908).

In alignment with the theoretical framework used for the case analysis, I argue that international negotiation is the most suitable approach to the resolution of the Ukrainian crisis at this phase of conflict. I think that this is the case because, among all other dispute resolution practices, it tends to be more pragmatic. The reason is that in in international affairs, the recourse to judicial processes tends to be limited essentially because of the importance of the concept of sovereignty and the cost and duration of the procedures. In addition to that, most of the governmental institutions are accustomed to bargaining and negotiations since a very long time. There is also a plethora of very experienced diplomats and negotiators who can undertake the talks on behalf of their respective governments. In the Ukrainian crisis, the proximity between the parties is such that it is possible to organize different rounds of negotiations and talks to accommodate the negotiators’ need to consult their constituencies

Because of the stakes at risk, and in order to avoid deadlock, I believe that designing a negotiation intervention at the international level requires an insightful and tactful planning. In order to secure adequate and committed participation of all the stakeholders, I see that the negotiation process has to include three stages: a pre-negotiation, the negotiation per se, and post-negotiation phase. The following section will discuss each stage of such intervention.

For a successful process, it is needless to underscore the importance of a consensus about the selection of the third party intervener in the negotiation process. In designing the intervention, the latter has first to evaluate the appropriateness of this practice in the Ukrainian case. This means that this option must be retained after a careful assessment of the context in which this alternative dispute resolution practice is envisaged. In order to do so, a comprehensive analysis of all the elements interplaying in the conflict has to be performed. In addition to all the information obtained through the media and specialized reports, additional data has to be collected regarding all the actors already involved. The latter include the individuals as well as the organizations, their state members’ positions and representatives. This specific aspect has also to cover the official and unofficial initiatives and their sponsors. In addition to that, potential interveners are also to be identified in terms of their willingness to become part of the solution process, their interests as well as their levels of influence.

In designing this intervention, I see that additional information is also required about the separatist groups operating in the region as well as their real agenda. A thorough analysis of the conditions and outcomes of the referendums concerning the autonomy of the Donetsk and Luhansk provinces will also be needed to efficiently determine the status of the representatives to be invited to the negotiation table. I do as well argue that the negotiation per se should not be undertaken independently from some facilitation and mediation processes.

I posit that some a facilitative process is needed among the members of the European Union in order to brainstorm and find a unified agreement between the countries in favor and those opposing the expansion of the sanctions against Russia and for the purpose of clearly determining the EU position concerning the increase of governmental violence in southeastern Ukraine. If doable, another facilitation is needed with the separatist groups in order to help them realistically explore their avenues and concretely evaluate their positions and alternatives in the negotiation process. I also see the necessity of a mediation process between the US and the EU, on the one hand, and Federation of Russia, on the other. Shuttle diplomacy can be used with the aim of reducing the tensions between the two sides, and with the goal of initiating a constructive dialogue in reparation for an effective negotiation process at the international level.

I also would like to underscore the fact that the conflict is not yet ripe for resolution because the primary parties –the separatist groups and the government of Ukraine- still have the confidence of gaining victory in the battleground and count on external support. For this reason, I argue that the negotiation should primarily be directed towards the management of the conflict rather than towards to its resolution. Because conflict management aims at limiting or containing conflict without necessarily resolving it (Swanström & Weissmann, 2005, p 23), I believe that the success of any negotiation will enable the primary and the secondary parties to shift their mode of interaction from a destructive to a constructive one. The resolution of the conflict would, then, become possible once the process creates a more favorable climate.

The negotiation process I suggest in the Ukrainian case will include all the parties involved in the conflict. That is to say it the US, the EU, Russia and Ukraine represented by their foreign ministers in addition to the separatist groups. Because of the nature and the level of negotiators, Kiev’s refusal to discuss with the secessionist groups, and the leverage Moscow has on the pro-Russian separatists, I suggest that Russia’s foreign minister represents this group. The ability of his government to “exercise leverage may also be positively influenced by close ties” (Webel & Galtung, 2007, p. 48) Russia both with Ukraine and the pro-Russian groups in the region. In addition to representing its own interests at the negotiation table, Moscow de facto power impose itself as the “mediator with muscles” between Ukraine, Donetsk and Luhansk representatives. Subsequently, the official participants at the negotiation table will be Ukraine, Russia, the United States and the European Union; securing, thus, the adequate level of representation.

Other elements are crucially important at the pre-negotiation phase. The first one is time. “Time is crucial in diplomacy” (Cohen, 2005, p. 33). This factor should take into account the ripeness of the situation, the timing, the duration and the pace of the overall negotiation process. In considering the conflict ripeness, it is important to include the impact of the sanctions on the Russian economy along with when would the main parties finally decide on the opportunity to envisage negotiation as the ultimate solution to stalemate. The pace and duration of the negotiation process is to be determined by the timing and capacity to effectively involve all the actors along with the level of interest demonstrated by the international community overall. In addition to the above mentioned, logistic elements. These would include a careful selection of a safe and neutral environment, appropriate translation, and preparatory briefings and trainings, if needed. The credibility of the process may rely on such details.

In what follows, I propose a negotiation model for the Ukrainian conflict. For the sake of simplification, the concept of negotiation will be limited to Zartman’s definition which considers it as “a process combining conflicting positions into a common position, under a decision rule of unanimity, a phenomenon in which the outcome is determined by the process” (Nikolaev, 2008, p. 4). In light of the realist theories of international relations, which favor “diplomacy and negotiation in the international relations” (Webel & Galtung, 2007, p. 37), the states, represented by their official representatives, will be considered as rational actors who value negotiation for its utility maximization. That is to say motivated by outcomes and incentives to participate.

Since the beginning of the crisis, distributive bargaining has been the strategy of all sides. In view of the current situation in Ukraine, I propose to replace the latter by an integrative negotiation process, which presupposes the inclusion of all the parties to the conflict. Its purpose is to focus on the commonalities rather than the differences of the conflicting parties in an attempt to address their needs and interests (Lewicki, Saunders, Minton, & Barry, 2007, p. 62).

Since Russia declared its unwillingness to negotiate with the US and the EU about a way to solve the crisis, I reassert that it has to be included in the negotiation process to prevent it from acting as a spoiler. Because “the best defense against spoilers who have more limited political goals and can be ‘bought off’ is to bring them to the negotiation process but to lay clear ground rules for their participation that include penalties for intransigent behavior and rewards for cooperation” (Webel & Galtung 2007, p. 44), I strongly recommend to the third party intervener to propose, through shuttle diplomacy, the reduction of the economic sanctions against Moscow in exchange of its acceptance to contribute to the process efficiently and in good faith.

For a successful intervention, I suggest that the organization of the negotiation is left to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, represented by its Chairperson Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Bukhalter. I purposefully opted for this organization because it does not only include all the EU states, but also counts amongst its fifty-seven members the US, Ukraine, Russia. The fact that it is currently headed by a Swiss a representative is also an incentive in the sense that this country, known for its neutrality, has “long been active in international peacekeeping operations, began to actively market their negotiation and intermediary services (Webel & Galtung, 2007, p. 39).

Building on the Putnam’s two-level- game theory which considers that:

“Without domestic resonance, international forces would not have sufficed to produce the accord, no matter how balanced and intellectually persuasive the overall package…A more adequate account of the domestic determinants of foreign policy and international relations must stress politics, parties, social classes, interest groups (both economic and noneconomic, legislators, and even public opinion and elections, not simply executive officials and institutional arrangements” (Nikolaev, 2008, p. 51).

I see that in the Ukrainian case, the negotiation process has to be twofold. At the international level, the foreign ministers will negotiate a tentative agreement, while also undertaking negotiations with their respective constituents about the acceptability of its outcome from the internal perspective.

At the negotiation table, each delegate (Proposer) will have equal weight in terms of importance for the resolution process. Yet, each proposal the executive branch representative makes, during the negotiation process, is subject to the approval of its constituencies, namely the legislative branch (Chooser) and the domestic interest groups (Endorser). Schematically and with reference to Nikolaev’s (2008, p. 87) representation (see Annex 2), this multilateral negotiation is represented below.

Since the purpose of this essay is not to discuss or recommend any strategies or tactics to the negotiating parties, I want to conclude this section by underscoring the importance of the parties’ commitment to this integrative process. This is to be secured by the international institution in charge of the organization of the negotiation, namely the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, which will have to engineer “enforcement mechanisms and security guarantees that lower negotiation costs while raising the cost of non-compliance” (Webel & Galtung, 2007, p. 42)

The imperative of a post-negotiation phase remains regardless of the duration of the intervention. During this phase, despite of the outcome, the organization in charge of the process has to follow up with all the parties. In case of settlement, it also has to follow up with each side about the implementation phase of the agreement. It will have to ensure that the guaranties provided are enforced by the international community and by the international legal system in case of violation. In case of failure, an assessment of the process will enable it to decide on the opportunity to reorganize another round of negotiations, or to recommend other means towards the resolution of the problem.


Despite the apparent political incompatibility between the different actors involved in the Ukrainian crisis, there is still hope for a peaceful resolution of the conflict in light of the necessity of all states to protect their interests. Dialogue remains key to the advancement and constructive negotiation process. The inclusion of all parties and their representation at the negotiation table is indispensable for any sustainable solution. In addition to other disputes resolution processes needed to secure an effective approach, an integrative negotiation remains the only possible option for a peaceful solution to the crisis. Though securing the inclusion and commitment of all the parties remains a challenge, the neutrality and the credibility of the third party remain key to the success of this process.

Even if the conflict does not seem ripe enough for such intervention, it is high time for the international community to reflect on a way to include Russia in the resolution process, while taking into account the necessity of a face-saving approach to secure its participation. Further economic sanctions and exclusion of this country will not only escalate the conflict, but also affect the whole region at a time where the international system is also being redefined through the emergence of new economic powers favorable to the Russian federation.


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Sabrina Chikhi is a student at the Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Nova Southeastern University. She focuses on Africa, the MENA region and Latin America.