Analytical article

Quenching Fire with Gasoline: Why Flawed Terminology Will Not Help to Resolve the Ukraine Crisis

Year:

2019

Published in:

Ponars Eurasia

Authors:

Ukraine
political environment
riot
revolution
coup
invasion

Since late 2013, Ukraine’s contentious political environment has received many labels: riot, revolution, coup, invasion, civil war. Unfortunately, the use of a particular label often hinges on the user’s political sympathies and affiliations, which does not encourage balanced discussions. Recently, Jesse Driscoll entered the fray with his policy memo arguing that the Ukraine crisis could/should be described as a “civil war.” He has two overarching arguments: 1) that events in Ukraine fit the scholarly definition of “civil war,” and 2) should this description be consistently applied by actors in academia and in policymaking, it will contribute to conflict resolution. Both claims are dubious. I argue that “transnationalized insurgency” is a much more appropriate way to describe the situation in Ukraine’s Donbas. I also explain why changing terminology will probably not influence conflict resolution.

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