The head of the University of Tartu's Center for Baltic Studies, Heiko Pääbo, said the Ukrainian government is yet to open talks with the rebels, and this would be the key to the first steps towards peace.
“It is very hard to understand Russia's aims. One goal seems to be keeping the area unstable,” Pääbo told uudised.err.ee today.
He said according to Russia's own reports, only 30 to 50 percent of people took part in the Crimea vote, and approval for leaving Ukraine was only slightly above 50 percent. Pääbo said he would not lend much weight to the “referendums” in Donetsk and Luhansk as people there are generally less pro-Russian but have, he said, lived under intense propaganda the past few months.
People in those regions are tired of the corruption and instead of Europe, they see the answer coming from the east, Pääbo said.
Speaking about the near future, the academic said Russia is unlikely to accept any result from the presidential elections in Ukraine, scheduled for May 25. Peace will depend on the success of the Ukrainian government in stabilizing the situation and finding communication channels.
“The problem right now is that the Ukrainian government has no dialogue with those declaring a republic. Each views the other as illegitimate,” he said.