Can Ukraine’s Donbas Region Get Same Deal as Hong Kong’s “One Nation, Two Systems”?

  • At present, The "Novorossiya Republic" (a proposed confederation) has no diplomatic recognition.
  • Hong Kong is allowed to have its own laws and judicial verdicts.
  • Would the same system appease the Donbas region to stay within Ukraine?

This week the US State Department re-activated military aid to Ukraine in the amount of $140 million. The purpose of the aid is for Ukraine to be able to maintain its independence and sovereignty. However, the conflict within the Donbas region continues and has entered a slow phase without any resolutions.

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At present, The “Novorossiya Republic” (a proposed confederation) has no diplomatic recognition, and Ukraine has classified them as a terrorist organizations and refers to their territory as the Anti-Terrorist Operation Zone.

As of today the conflict can’t be resolved due to all the sides being very far apart and each side only wants its own version of reality to be enforced. Ukraine believes Donbas should stay within Ukraine. At the end of August, the idea was floated for Donbas to get similar status as Hong Kong.

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According to the China’s constitution, Article 31, The state may establish special administrative regions when necessary. The systems to be instituted in special administrative regions shall be prescribed by law enacted by the National People’s Congress in the light of specific conditions. Hong Kong is allowed to have its own laws and judicial verdicts. China only provides national security to Hong Kong. The region even has its own president (although all the candidates must be approved by Beijing).

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Moreover, besides using a Chinese flag, Hong Kong is allowed to use its own government symbols. It has two official languages. Additionally, the region has its own borders and own taxation system, while China can’t collect taxes in Hong Kong.

Would the same system appease the Donbas region to stay within Ukraine? Could it be a solution to end the conflict?

Thus far the conflict has been active for over five years, resulting in casualties and unrest. “Special Region” status would allow Donbas to have its own: leader; elections; two official languages (Ukrainian and Russian); currency; and laws. Or they could adopt both Russian and Ukrainian currencies and make them both being official.

In order for the proposal to be successful and get backing, it should attract businesses in the region by stopping the armed conflict. One possibility is offering to create an offshore zone to attract investments.

This arrangement could potentially stop Russia from meddling into Ukraine’s affairs.

Furthermore, for the US it could create an opportunity to focus on Ukraine’s interest in joining NATO. The creation of the offshore zone in Donbass could possibly be attractive to the Western European businessmen as well.

One of the biggest dilemmas would continue being what to do with the Donbass region’s vigilante army.  The Donbass People’s Militia was formed by Pavel Gubarev, who was “elected” “People’s Governor” of Donetsk Oblast by a mob of pro-Russian protesters. Gubarev was a member of the Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine, a pro-Russian party based in the southeast of the country, according to an unnamed acquaintance.

Could they possibly be utilized at the regions’ borders and work co-jointly with Ukraine’s army?

There are many unanswered questions pertaining to the future of the region. However, it is imperative to find a peaceful solution and end the conflict to avoid further Russia’s influence.

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Christina Kitova

I spent most of my professional life in finance, insurance risk management litigation.

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