U COLLEGE LONDON (UK)
Jakob Hauter is a London-based researcher focusing on Ukraine and Russia. Currently a doctoral student at UCL's School of Slavonic and East European Studies in London, under the supervision of Andrew Wilson, he previously worked as an analyst for Russian and Ukrainian media and current affairs for the US Government.
How the War Began:
Process Tracing, Open Source Intelligence Analysis
and Conflict Escalation in the Donbas
Open source intelligence (OSINT) analysis is a research technique that can help to identify, structure and verify online information in a transparent way. So far, it has mainly been used in journalism. This paper argues that this technique has great potential as an empirical basis for the social science methodology of process tracing. Together, the two approaches do not only bring more clarity into the debate on the causes of the Donbas conflict, but also create a replicable framework for the academic analysis of war in murky information environments. The first part introduces process tracing and OSINT analysis and explains their potential and relevance using the case of the Donbas. The second part uses this proposed methodological framework to model the escalation dynamics in the region between the ouster of President Yanukovych on 22 February and the first Minsk Agreement on 5 September 2014. The third part uses process tracing through OSINT analysis to zoom in on one important part of the first juncture – the occupation of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk by an armed group on 12 April 2014. It analyses the causal sequences behind the events and demonstrates how the causes of this particular episode of the conflict can be traced back to the actions of the Russian state.