The outcome of Sunday’s referendum does not make it easier to come to a solution of the conflict in Ukraine. Regardless of whether the vote was legal or criminal (as the government in Kiev see it) the result was quite clear. A large majority of the population of Southeast Ukraine will no longer be a subject to the Kiev government, which in their opinion does not take into account the interests of the region and is considered un-democratic .
Thus, it appears that the “big plan” – which has led to the unrest – is by far not as easy to realize as many thought in the beginning. The Kiev government and their foreign supporters have acted in a manner that on the contrary has strengthened the forces that want secession from the rest of Ukraine. But by far all of those who voted with “yes” were “pro Russian separatists”. This was not first of all a referendum for a joining Russia, it was rather a vote of no confidence against Kiev.
The worst mistake one can do now is to ignore the result of the vote on the grounds that it was not valid under international law, criminal or manipulated. One should accept the reality that shows that a significant part of the population in southeast Ukraine says no to the current political regime in Kiev. This means also that new threats and sanctions against Russia will not help to resolve the conflict – but rather make the situation even more difficult.
I believe that all parties in this conflict should gather around a negotiating table – for example, under the auspices of the OSCE – as soon as only possible. Maybe I’m naive and lacking political experience – but for me it is quite clear that a continued escalation of the conflict will not lead to anything good. However, if all parties accept reality and follows a compromise oriented line which that takes into account Ukraine’s special position between East and West,
there is hope for a sustainable solution to the conflict.