The dynamics of peacemaking and the uneasy interplay of talks and violence in contemporary peace processes become increasingly nonlinear, complex, and unpredictable. In this special issue (no. 1(62), 2022), a mix of actors, dynamics and factors at the interface of peace processes and violence is narrowed down to contexts that involve de facto states. The majority of (post)conflict settings involving de facto states have been subject to an ongoing or stalemated peace process that has failed to produce comprehensive, final peace accords, with respective conflicts remaining “frozen”. Despite some form of a ceasefire in place, many de facto states remain heavily contested, and recurring violence or a relapse into armed conflict are not infrequent. The volume includes a discussion about the basic terminology and concepts, such as “peace processes” and “de facto states”. It then explores some key cross-cutting issues in various contexts involving de facto states, with the central focus on contested sovereignty, domestic and international, and on how it relates to viability of such entities in active or frozen conflicts in and beyond post-Soviet Eurasia. Finally, internal and international aspects of the main violent confrontation in Europe and the post-Soviet space of the 2010s – an armed conflict in Donbass – are explored. This includes the rarely addressed dynamics behind talks and violence within the contested republics of Donbass, and a critical analysis of the Minsk peace process, of the role of the European institutions, such as the OSCE and the EU, of whether or not this process was doomed to fail, and of the factors that led to a new violent escalation in the region since February 2022.