Using the conflict studies literature, the article classifies the latest scholarly writings on the origins of the Donbas conflict into three general groupings: on the role of the history and identity of the region’s inhabitants, on the interference by “third” actors and on so-called contentious politics. The analysis suggests that the initial support of the uprising by Russia is usually greatly overestimated, and the level of social discontent and protest movements is underestimated. The study of contentious politics appears to be the most appropriate tool regarding the origins of the conflict. After 2015, the conflict took on, at least in part, the contours of an interstate clash, but the Donbas insurgency has continued to retain its authenticity. The failure of the 2015 settlement and the path to war after 2018 cannot be understood without considering the actions of Russia and those of Ukraine and leading Western states.
conflict, Donbas, clash of interpretations, origins, evolution, identity, Russia, Ukraine, contentious politics
Vít Klepárník received his PhD in general history at the Faculty of Arts of Masaryk University in Brno (2008). He has worked in academic and non-academic positions. In 2011, he co-founded the think tank CESTA together with Jiří Pehe and Bohuslav Sobotka; he also worked as a political analyst at the Office of the Government of the Czech Republic (2015–2018). Currently, he works in the Department of Civic Education at the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes. His main field of interest is international relations after 1945 and the history of the Cold War, especially the study of international conflicts, political violence, political economy and research on the policies of Eastern Bloc countries in the Third World.