When asked if one should expect any progress in tackling the conflict in Donbass, Nicolai Petro said that there have been signs of Kiev now willing to turn its “antiterrorist operation” in eastern Ukraine into “a permanent military occupation” of eastern Ukraine.
He added that if approved, it would help complete the present phase of the “antiterrorist operation” and would add a new dimension to the whole operation.
"This could apparently be done to make the conflict recognized as an official war between Russia and Ukraine,” Dr. Petro noted.
He added that such plans have so far been “shot down” by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko though.
“Maybe this was just a trial balloon to see how President Putin might respond and whether he would be open to any other settlement format beyond the Minsk one. None of that was addressed by Putin, who basically let the entire issue slide. Putin is taking a wait-and-see [tactic] to see what new suggestions the Ukrainian side will come up with to end the conflict, to which Russia does not consider itself a formal party,” professor Petro continued.
Residents of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions held independence referendums and proclaimed the People's Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk.
Kiev has since been conducting a military operation, encountering stiff local resistance.