Serhiy Vysotsky, in a Liga.net article entitled: 'Does Ukraine have to return Donbas on Putin's terms?' says what perhaps many think, but are unwilling to say right now.
I've loosely translated his thoughts:
Better for Ukraine to lose part of its territory than return Donbas on the aggressor's terms.
According to Putin and Poroshenko the truce is generally being observed. [maybe at time of writing...LEvko]
The situation may now develop along two possible scenarios. If at some point the cease-fire is violated by the Russian army or their proxy separatist militants, the war will continue. Or, more likely, shooting will stop for a longer period until the Winter or early Spring, and the break in the fighting (along with an economic war and the turning off of gas) will be used by Russia to persuade the Ukrainian authorities to capitulate and to provoke a new widespread social revolt.
The aim of the Kremlin in Ukraine is not so much the occupation of the territory, but rather a creeping counter-revolution in response to the EuroMaidan. A strong, modern Ukraine is Putin's nightmare, because such a country would show there is a realistic, clear alternative to his regime. That is why Russian peace terms imposed on the Donbas do not include independence for a terrorist Novorossia. On the contrary, Russia wants Ukraine to remain united, but this unity has to be achieved and maintained on Putin's terms.
It is no secret that the Donetsk clan headed by Yanukovych introduced a gangster-type economy with criminal traditions amongst a Sovietized population, first in its own region, and then in the whole country.
Putin planned the carve-up of Ukraine on clear terms, with kickbacks for the garage manager [Yanukovych] on the sale of strategic enterprises, Ukrainian infrastructure and defence industry. Yanukovych almost did manage to sell Ukraine, but then the Maidan sprung up.
The political dominance of Donetsk, the corruption by them of the political classes, their total pressing of public resources and private businesses resulted in a situation where the entire country began to work for the bottomless pocket of the Donetsk clan.
According to Moscow's peace plan, the idea that the Donbas should remain part of Ukraine as a kind of autonomous territory, but with representation in Parliament with the right of veto on foreign policy decisions throughout the country while and at the same being financed from Kyiv, means Moscow wants to return to the status-quo. It intends to hang the Donbas criminal/political yoke back onto the neck of Ukraine.
What is the Kremlin actually offering Ukraine in its peace plan? Instead of the financing of an army and National Guard it proposes the reconstruction of a Donbas destroyed by Russia. But of course, the money will not be for funding the region's recovery, but rather for financing terrorists granted amnesty and legalised through local elections as a new power.
The fifth columnists of the Donets Basin, the fighters who tortured prisoners and killed soldiers and civil society activists, will be formed into a political force that will enter parliament on an anti-Ukrainian ticket. It is easy to imagine what an election will be like on territory controlled by militants - it will be just like the May "referendum".
And who is to supervise such local or parliamentary elections on the occupied part of Donbas - the Russian army? Or will troops and paramilitary forces of the Russian Federation be withdrawn? Acceptance of the Kremlin's peace plan means surrender.
Despite the complexity of the situation in Ukraine, the direct intervention of Putin's troops and the threat of a full-scale war, the human tragedy and the pain of loss, the fact that the Donbas is soaked with blood of our soldiers and volunteers, despite the tragedy of the few Donetsk and Lugansk patriots who heroically helped our troops, we must honestly ask ourselves: do we need imaginary territorial integrity in exchange for national interests and annihilation of the ideals of the Maidan?
This is a complex, sensitive issue. But it is necessary to give an honest answer. Are we ready to feed an army of invaders, who will not withdraw voluntarily from the Donbas? Are we ready to see in the streets of Kyiv, in parliament, people bragging about the numbers of murdered Ukrainian volunteer battalions? Are we ready, instead of strengthening the army and introducing radical reforms, to work on a huge fraudulent Donbas budget scheme intended to help Akhmetov, Yefremov and other collaborator clans rebuild?
The honest answer is as follows: The only way to return Donbas and Crimea is either win them back after radical reforms and the creation of an effective efficient army, or to return them quietly - through negotiations after the collapse of the Putin regime as a result of sanctions. Meanwhile these occupied territories will be our painful abscess, reminding us of the 23-years of civil irresponsibility and the time lost in building a functioning state. The loss of part of our territory as a result of aggression is not a sentence. In the current circumstances it is a last chance to create a successful and powerful country.
However, there is one big problem in this sort of speculation. Over the years, a majority of Ukrainians in the easternmost oblasts have considered themselves to be 'patriots of Ukraine'. Should these people be ditched?