Thomas de Waal, Senior Fellow, Carnegie Europe
Magdalena Grono, Programme Director for Europe and Central Asia, International Crisis Group
Andrei Popov, President, Moldovan Institute for Strategic Initiatives
Fredrik Wesslau, Director of Wider Europe Programme, ECFR
Twenty-five years since the collapse of the Soviet Union, separatist territories have become a fact of life in Europe’s East. With Russia’s annexation of Crimea and military intervention in Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine, three new entities were added to an already crowded field consisting of Transnistria, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Nagorno-Karabakh.
These entities exist in limbo. They are de jure part of one country but de facto independent from that country. Their development has been stilted, rule of law is weak, and militarisation is heavy. They are effectively grey zones on the map of Europe. But they are also territories with populations who live largely cut off from the rest of the world.
How should Europe engage with the separatist authorities and people living in these territories?