Yuriy Smelyanskyi, expert on temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine. Photo provided by the author

About some theoretical and practical aspects of reintegration


If you formulate a request to search for publications on the theory of post-war reintegration (Theory after military reintegration), publications on the topic of reintegration of servicemen and war veterans will be offered1-3.

It is noted in the published materials that scientific and research opinion today considers the category of reintegration exclusively in the context of a person, his interests, his socialization, and his further post-war life.

A new advanced view and direction of research in Western science on the topic of reintegration is considered to consider human reintegration in close connection with such disciplines as political economy and sociology.

Western researchers of this issue emphasize that there are two approaches to the formation of reintegration policy:

  1. Programmatic approach, in particular, programmatic support offered by international and national agencies.
  2. A model in which event participants (combatants) occupy a central place.

One note. A combatant is a direct participant in hostilities. And indeed, people who took part in hostilities are in dire need of reintegration, and even more so, rehabilitation. This is all the more necessary if we remember that on February 20 we will mark the crossing of the 9-year milestone of the continuation of the Russian-Ukrainian war, Ukraine’s struggle for its independence.

In this context, the question remains open: into which society, into which system of relations will Ukrainian war veterans reintegrate?

For a long time, reintegration remained an understudied and underfunded third element of the DDR system – disarmament, demobilization, reintegration4.

Another aspect of reintegration remains completely overlooked – the reintegration of people who did not directly participate in hostilities, but suffered as a result of the war. Suffered as objects of political persecution by the occupiers. They suffered as prisoners of the occupiers in their homes on the territory occupied by the enemy. They suffered as forced migrants from the occupied territory. The entire territory of Ukraine suffered as a result of enemy shelling.

It should be noted that the UN gives a certain amount of recommendations on reintegration in the context of migration and return migration. That is, the movement of people and the processes associated with this movement5. Existing international recommendations must be taken into account. But it should be remembered that these recommendations do not provide an answer to the question: how to arrange Ukraine and the de-occupied territories after the end of the war. After all, the recommendations are of a global nature and are not tied to the issues of the territory of a specific state.

One very important historical aspect of the post-war reintegration of the Crimean Peninsula. Before the beginning of the Second World War and the occupation of Crimea by the Germans, almost every household in Bakhchysaray and Kuibyshev (Albat) districts (now it is only Bakhchysaray) had its own mini-hydroelectric power plants, which provided electricity to households, and surpluses were given to district centers. When the Soviet troops retreated to Sevastopol in 1941, these mini-hydroelectric plants were destroyed. And after the deoccupation, no one restored them.

In terms of regional energy self-sufficiency, Crimea remained a dependent region. That is, at the time of the occupation of Crimea in 2014, in terms of energy self-sufficiency, the reintegration of the peninsula after the Second World War had not been completed. An attempt to build the Crimean NPP in the second half of the 80s also failed.

Another aspect of reintegration after the Second World War is the demilitarization of Crimea in terms of demining the territory. There is a mountainous area in the southwest of the Crimean Peninsula called the Mackenzie Mountains. During the period of defense and then de-occupation of Sevastopol, they were so stuffed with ammunition that until the beginning of the occupation of Crimea in 2014, this region was not demilitarized. Reintegration in this matter was never completed.

Political-territorial dimension. At the time of the beginning of the occupation during the Second World War, Crimea had the status of an autonomous Soviet socialist republic formed on a national basis. After deoccupation in 1944, Crimean Tatars were deported, and not only them. But with the deportation of the Crimean Tatar people in Crimea, the same national feature, according to which the autonomy was created, was eliminated. And in 1945, the autonomy in Crimea was abolished, and the peninsula became a region.

The autonomous status of Crimea was returned in February 1991, but there was no national sign of autonomy. The communists returned Crimea’s status in order not to return statehood to the Crimean Tatars. And the restored autonomy in the form of the Autonomous Republic acquired a corrupt and pro-Russian context.

That is, in the matter of the political-territorial status of Crimea, the reintegration was not finished either.

During the Second World War, Crimea was under occupation from November 1941 to May 1944. That is, less than 3 years. Reintegration has not been completed in the past 70 years after the fact of deoccupation.

In February 2023, the period of occupation of Crimea by Muscovites will exceed the 9-year mark. Its too long. Accordingly, there is no need to talk about quick reintegration. During the 9 years of occupation, for example, almost an entire generation of children went through the process of “militarization of consciousness” through secondary schools. Demilitarization of consciousness is a long process.

In the process of working on issues of reintegration, primarily the future reintegration of the Crimean Peninsula, the author formulated the definition of “reintegration” as restoration or return to the legal, economic, ideological, cultural, administrative and other elements of the common space of Ukraine. In other words, to the Ukrainian coordinate system.

What does the process of reintegration of the Crimean Peninsula into the legal, economic, cultural, religious and other fields of Ukraine mean and will mean in practice. This is a matter of perception and readiness to build one’s life and the life of one’s family in Ukrainian coordinates.

So, there is a question that is defined by the term “well-being” in all its manifestations. In other words, the opportunity to exercise one’s constitutional rights and fulfill one’s constitutional duties. This means that the main strategic goal of reintegration is a person, a community of people, citizens of Ukraine who permanently live in the de-occupied territory. If we speak in the context of the reintegration of Crimea, then on the de-occupied territory of the Crimean peninsula. Their consciousness. It is known from economic theory and the theory of social relations that positive changes in consciousness occur only in conditions of socio-economic stability.

In the United Nations Guidelines on reintegration, the term is defined as “a multifaceted process that allows people to restore the economic, social, and psychosocial relationships necessary to sustain life, livelihood, and dignity, and to achieve inclusion in civic life”5.

Let us propose another definition of reintegration – it is the policy of adaptation of a person and social groups of people, citizens, who suffered as a result of military actions.

From such a perspective on the issue of reintegration, any new construction or restoration of the destroyed is only one of the tools for ensuring human adaptation, and not a strategic goal. This is the root of the fallacy of the position of the Ukrainian authorities regarding the formation of the Strategy for the Reintegration of Crimea and the tactics of its implementation.

Construction and similar actions and projects are considered as a strategic goal. In fact, the main tool of reintegration is the “quality of human life”. Since “quality of life” ensures socio-economic stability and, ultimately, positive changes in the consciousness of people and the masses. Changing consciousness from a military mindset to a peacetime mindset is a strategic goal of reintegration, one of several.

So, first of all, the policy of reintegration is a matter of creating conditions of social and economic stability in the region liberated from the occupiers. Socio-economic stability, in particular, will be a factor in “the pace of reintegration of the peninsula into Ukraine.” And ensuring socio-economic stability – with the availability of resources. And the faster Crimea will be able to provide its current life activities at the expense of generating its own resources, the cheaper it will be to reintegrate the peninsula into Ukraine and the higher the pace of reintegration will be in general.

For this reason, it is quite logical that the process of reintegration should begin with the restoration and adjustment of the economic model of Crimea as a natural and integral part of the unified economic model of Ukraine. A structural regional economic model must be formed before the deoccupation of the Crimean Peninsula occurs. Such an implemented solution will facilitate negotiations with our Western partners regarding aid for the reconstruction of Crimea.

Another important condition for the successful reintegration of the de-occupied territories of Ukraine is the correct definition of the principles on which the reintegration process will be based.

Principles of reintegration of Ukrainian territories:

1.The principle of urgency.
It means that the transitional period, i.e. the period during which the de-occupied territory is managed by the transitional military-civilian administration, cannot last indefinitely. The maximum period of stay of the territory in the transition period cannot exceed 3 years. The optimal term of operation in the de-occupied territory of the temporary military-civilian administration is 1.5-2 years.

2.The principle of personnel subsidiarity.
It means that the maximum possible volume of the management apparatus of local state authorities, local self-government bodies, pedagogical and other necessary personnel, which is formed in the territory that is being de-occupied and reintegrated, is formed mainly from the local population.

3.The principle of justice, reconciliation, impartiality and an equal degree of responsibility.
It means that until the deoccupation of the Ukrainian territory occurs, the state provides the appropriate amount of legislative and regulatory documents that will ensure the fairness of decision-making in the process of evaluating the actions of Ukrainian citizens on the liberated territory during the period of occupation.

4.The principle of equal opportunities in development.
It means that all Ukrainian regions and territories have equal opportunities and support for their socio-economic development.

5.The principle of anticipatory development and experimentation.
It means that individual territories of Ukraine can have a greater amount of their own powers and autonomous rights, which are used for anticipatory socio-economic development, conducting experiments to test new models, which should ensure higher rates of socio-economic development.

6.The principle of the unity of a political nation and a single economic space.
It means that the residents of the liberated territories of Ukraine develop and live in a single cultural, educational, legal, religious space of Ukraine, and the socio-economic development of these territories is built on the conditions of interregional interdependence and mutual exchange.

It should be taken into account that the correct choice of principles of reintegration, strategy and tactics of action does not guarantee 100% success, if the existing risks are not taken into account, and minimization of the impact of these risks is not taken into account in the strategy and tactics of reintegration.

The following can be considered as the main risks:

1. Risk of lack of value benchmarks.
The problem is exacerbated by the fact that value orientations have not yet been formed in general for the Ukrainian political nation. Although it is values that determine the reason and purpose of the existence of a political nation and state. At the same time, the presence of formed values does not guarantee a one-time reorientation of society’s consciousness along the vector of development established by value guidelines.

Value changes in the consciousness and behavior of individuals occur only if the population of the state lives in conditions of economic well-being for a long time. Socio-economic development leads to predictable cultural and political changes. The collapse of the economy creates changes in the opposite direction. There are several reasons.

First, the prevailing value orientation in society corresponds to the prevailing living conditions.

Secondly, when the conditions of life change, value orientations, as a rule, change with them, but only after a rather long time, which is necessary to realize the changes in the conditions of existence and to experiment with new principles of life, which reveal among them those that are better suited life situation In the realities of Ukrainian conditions, the transition from war and occupation to a peaceful and organized life can be considered as an “accelerating factor”.

Within the framework of minimizing the influence of the risk factor of the lack of value orientations, in particular within the framework of the reintegration process, it is necessary to solve the task of psychological rehabilitation of Ukrainian citizens who suffered as a result of the occupation of part of the Ukrainian territories. The goal of such rehabilitation is the formation of such a perception of reality, under which a conflict-free life activity in the de-occupied and reintegrated territories of Ukraine becomes as possible as possible.

Another risk emerges from the current situation with value orientations…

2. Risk of socio-economic instability.
The structural regional economic model, formed before the deoccupation of the Crimean Peninsula, will perform, in particular, the role of a tool for minimizing the specified risk. The risk is aggravated by the fact that the economic model of Ukraine, which has developed and is functioning, is not able to generate a positive vector of the state’s development and to provide such development with the necessary amount of resources. A new economic model must be formed for Ukraine, in which the development and socio-economic well-being of each region is interdependent. In turn, the implemented principle of anticipatory development and experimentation will minimize the negative impact of the lack of a new economic model of Ukraine if it is used correctly.

After the withdrawal of Russia from the temporarily occupied territories, the economic potential of the Crimean Peninsula will be virtually destroyed and it will have to be rebuilt practically anew. A practical illustration of this thesis is the situation in the territories of Ukraine that have already been liberated from the Russian occupation presence.

It is permissible to say that the state of the economic potential after the departure of the occupiers will correspond to the state of the Crimean economy at the time of its liberation during the Second World War in May 1944. Provided that the Kremlin authorities do not repeat the crime of the Stalinist regime – the deportation of Ukrainian citizens from the occupied peninsula. The state of the economic potential of the temporarily occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions with industrial enterprises destroyed, dismantled and exported to the territory of the Russian Federation is a vivid example of such a statement.

For reference. As of January 1, 2018, about 300,000-350,000 jobs have been eliminated in Crimea since the beginning of the occupation of the peninsula. The data that provided an analysis of such changes in the occupied Crimea in 2018 was closed. The process of elimination of jobs continues. It cannot be claimed that there is only a reduction in jobs in the occupied Crimea. New ones are being created, primarily in the non-production budgetary sphere. For example, new classes in secondary schools, new workplaces in kindergartens, occupation state administration, occupation municipal administration, etc. At one time, this very tactic was used by Russia in the occupied territories of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria.

The creation of these new jobs is connected with the tasks of colonization of the occupied territory of the Crimean peninsula and the increase of the population in the occupied territory of Crimea due to the immigration of citizens of the Russian Federation from the mainland of the Russian Federation to Crimea as part of the population replacement policy.

Due to the fact of de-occupation and deportation of Russian immigrants from the territory of the Crimean peninsula, the need to preserve new jobs will be eliminated. At the same time, there will be a need to restore workplaces that functioned before the occupation of the peninsula, eliminated by the occupiers in the process of occupation and implementation of the policy of colonization of the occupied territory of Crimea.

At the time of the occupation, there were 1,050,000 workplaces in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol. The deficit of jobs to reach the level of 100% employment was approximately 50-70 thousand permanent (non-seasonal) jobs. Based on the fact of deoccupation, it is possible to predict an estimated shortage of jobs in the entire territory of the Crimean Peninsula in the amount of 700-800 thousand jobs.

It is impossible to eliminate such a shortage of jobs, especially in the manufacturing sector, in a short time. The formation of the image of the future politico-territorial and regional economic model of Crimea within the framework of the general model of the system of relations in Ukraine, taking into account the Crimean peculiarities, will help to positively influence the acceleration of the process of restoring the pre-occupation number of functioning workplaces. Which will also be a tool for minimizing existing risks.

This necessity arises from the fact that the political-territorial system of the state characterizes the way of political and territorial organization of the state, the system of interrelationships of people living in the center and different regions, and the distribution of power on the territory of the state between central and local bodies of state power and local self-government.

The state unites social communities heterogeneous in ethnic, religious, linguistic, and cultural relations, as a result of which there is a need to ensure the interaction of these communities and the integrity of the state. In addition, managing a large state with a large territory and a large population from one center is extremely difficult, and in fact effective management is impossible. The right of the three indigenous peoples of Crimea to self-determination dictates the need for a final solution to this issue before the fact of deoccupation from the point of view of the formation of a model image of Crimea after liberation from the occupation presence. Taking into account the mistakes made.

Minimizing the risks of socio-economic instability is the main condition for the successful reintegration of Crimea.

3. The risk of environmental instability.
The emergence of the risk is connected with the fact of the destruction of the industrial infrastructure and the infrastructure of life support, the direct cause of ecological damage during the entire period of occupation.

A tool for minimizing the impact of the risk of environmental instability is the fastest possible audit of industrial infrastructure and life support infrastructure. Eliminating the possibility of man-made disasters. The priority is to restore the functioning of the life support infrastructure. Nine years of occupation and eight seasons of absence of Dnieper water in Crimea. Intervention in the natural landscape. This is a sufficient term to start the process of reverse climate change, which will be negative for the entire territory of the Crimean Peninsula.

Large-scale destruction of the fertile layer due to an increase in soil salinity; large-scale climatic changes due to the destruction of the Crimean Mountains due to an increase in the production of construction materials for the construction of occupation military facilities; the destruction of Crimean forests in general and their uniqueness in particular (for example, lifting the ban on cutting Crimean pine); dehydration of the territory of the Crimean peninsula as a result of predatory extraction of fresh water from underground sources; destruction of therapeutic mud lakes; destruction of the coastline due to increased volumes of sea sand extraction, etc.

Work to minimize such risks should begin immediately after the fact of deoccupation. For this, action protocols should be developed, sample estimates and directions of work calculated, solutions for cases where it will no longer be possible to repair the damage caused.

4. Risk of a high degree of development of domestic conflicts.
Hate, revenge, rejection, irreconcilability, the most stable behavioral positions of the household level. One of the main factors in the development of such behavioral positions is the search for justice.

It should be noted that, unfortunately, no norms have been introduced into the legislation of Ukraine so far, with the help of which it would be possible to determine, on a legal basis, individuals and legal entities who are responsible for supporting and facilitating the occupation of part of the sovereign territory of Ukraine. No criteria have been defined to describe this support and assistance. The current legislation of Ukraine is not provided with norms, using which state institutions should adequately respond to the actions of the occupation regimes throughout the occupied territory of Ukraine, in particular, to those structures and persons who provide direct or indirect support to the actions of the occupation regime.

As a result, responsibility for betraying the interests of one’s state and moving along the path of collaborationism is mostly determined in the so-called “manual mode”. The criteria defined by several articles of the criminal code are not sufficient, and they do not fully take into account all the nuances of the manifestation of collaborationism.

Companies that violate the imposed regime of sanctions under current Ukrainian legislation cannot be prosecuted unless our Western partners draw attention to them. In such a paradigm of legal coordinates, it is meaningless to talk about the reintegration of the territory. Because from the point of view of an average citizen, such an approach will be perceived as unfair.

Injustice in the legal field pushes citizens to form their own models for achieving justice. The formation of many independent models of justice will lead to a large number of domestic conflicts. As a result, the persons affected by the occupation will become responsible, which will also generate instability.

In Ukraine, it is necessary to develop and adopt the Law of Ukraine “On Collaborationism” as a document that defines the inevitability of criminal, administrative, civil, and constitutional liability depending on the degree of guilt. This law can have different names: “On Collaborationism”, “On Reconciliation”, “On Forgiveness”, etc. His task is to cool the appetites of collaborators in their desire to enrich themselves at the expense of Ukrainian state and private property; to encourage a certain part of the population to adopt verified civil decisions; to show the citizens of Ukraine the state vision of justice regarding the assessment of the actions of its citizens during the occupation of part of the sovereign territory of the state.

5. The risk of non-acceptance of the actions of the state authorities due to distrust of special services and law enforcement agencies (SBU, GPU, Ministry of Internal Affairs, courts and others).
Before the beginning of the war, personnel policy in the special services was mostly based on the territorial principle. The main reason is to minimize dependence on the need to provide housing for employees. On the territory of Crimea, especially on the South Bank, the model of “apartment service tourism” was implemented, when people were appointed to management positions who did not perform their duties for a long time and were transferred to other regions of Ukraine, but in this short period of time they managed to acquire housing. A negative consequence of the implementation of the territorial principle is corruption and commercialization of the activities of special services. As a result, distrust is growing.

In order to minimize the level of mistrust, the personnel policy of these bodies should be implemented on the principle of rotation. Except for that small share of employees who provide agency work. The motivational basis of personnel policy should be based on other principles and guarantees, but during the period of service, official housing should be provided without the right of privatization.

The lack of decisions or the implementation of erroneous decisions regarding the minimization of the risks listed above can generate/intensify the pressure of additional risks and threats:

1.Mass refusal to enter the legislative field of Ukraine/refusal to implement the laws of Ukraine.
2.Armed resistance.
3.Ideological resistance.
4.Confessional resistance.
5.Repetition of armed aggression.
6.Terrorist acts aimed at destabilizing the situation in the de-occupied territories.


For the correct formation of the reintegration policy of the Crimean Peninsula, several blocks of questions should be developed:

1.Socio-economic block.
2.Block of responsibility and restoration of justice.
3.Administrative-territorial and political-territorial block.
4.Humanitarian and educational block.
5.Natural and ecological block.


An objectively formed Reintegration Strategy should solve a threefold function:

1.To be the expected signals for citizens of Ukraine who are in the temporarily occupied territory or were forced to leave it, as a confirmation of the fact of real, and not declarative, attention of the Ukrainian authorities to solving the issue of reintegration into Ukraine of temporarily occupied territories in the maximum possible time, and therefore, their deoccupation.
2.Signals for collaborators and violators of sanctions about the inevitability of liability (punishment) for actions committed against the state of Ukraine and its citizens.
3.Signals for the leadership of foreign countries, our potential allies and partners, international organizations, confirming the consistency and consistency of the actions of the state authorities of Ukraine in their desire for the de-occupation and reintegration of the temporarily occupied territories into Ukraine.


The policy of reintegration can be divided into two components or two parts.

1.Decisions and actions are adopted, implemented or prepared for implementation before the fact of deoccupation. Formation of the Strategy; Strategy implementation tactics; action protocols regarding various forecasted situations; determination of areas responsible for implementation or specific issues; action or decision-making algorithms; formation of personnel reserve and many other preparatory measures.
2.Decisions and actions after the fact of deoccupation. Implementation of prepared work; study of the situation throughout the de-occupied territory of Crimea and the level of damage caused by the occupation; adjusting the goals of the Strategy and tactical tasks if necessary; and so on. Direct implementation of the Reintegration Strategy, i.e. achieving certain goals and obtaining the expected results of achieving these goals.


Basically, the policy of reintegration is the tactic of implementing the corresponding Strategy. Today we have to solve the tasks of the first part of the formation of the reintegration policy, but we are very far behind in the execution of this block of tasks.

One of the main strategic tasks of reintegration is to prevent a repeat of the disaster of 2014. Without the reintegration of the consciousness of the majority of the population in the de-occupied territories, this task has no solution. This is a very complex and large-scale work. The implementation of a large-scale reintegration policy requires a great deal of public support and approval. Therefore, a dialogue and a broad expert and public discussion is needed. Everything that will be secretly developed by the authorities and announced as the right way will be perceived negatively. This is how the situation of reality developed. Developers need to prepare their argumentation about the correctness and balance of decisions simultaneously with the Strategy.



economic expert, expert on issues of temporarily occupied territories, co-founder of the board of the “Institute of Black Sea Strategic Studies” at the request of the editors of the newspaper “Krymska svitlytsia”

The Ukrainian version of the article is here







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