South Ossetia, Abkhazia, Transnistria, Nagorny Karabakh, and Donbas — they’re located in different parts of of the Eurasian continent, but they are united by one thing: they are all considered “frozen conflicts.” All represent places where unrecognized separatist states — often backed by Russia — control slices of post-Soviet countries’ sovereign territory.
While the term “frozen conflict” is often a misnomer (both Karabakh and Donbas are the site of ongoing “hot” conflict), the disparate regions do pose distinct challenges for the countries’ de jure leadership, the international community, and the frozen conflict zones’ residents.
We profiled Data Vanishvili, a farmer in Georgia’s South Ossetia region. Today, barbed wire fence runs through the Khurvaleti village, where he lives. While most villagers live on the Georgian side, Vanishvili and his family has found themselves trapped on the side controlled by the Russian-backed de facto South Ossetian government.
Today, presidential and ministerial delegations visit the village to shake hands with Dato Vanishvili through the barbed wire fence. Hromadske also travelled there to speak to Vanishvili about his life and his family.
But the existence of several frozen conflicts also allows us to draw conclusions about best practices and potential pitfalls in working to resolve the most recent of these conflicts, the war in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region.
Hromadske spoke with Nicu Popescu, a Senior Analyst at the EU Institute for Security Studies, about the challenges of resolving frozen frozen conflicts and the risks that come with potential resolutions.
/Text by Matthew Kupfer