In my opinion, nobody knows the future status of the Donbas areas that, in fact, have already been annexed by Russia — especially not the individuals who actually negotiated this status: the presidents of Russia and Ukraine.
For Petro Poroshenko, the agreement to “special status” was a compromise to stop the Russian advance to the outskirts of Mariupol and to keep the country from being dragged into a major war. For Vladimir Putin, the “special status” provided the possibility of saving the positions of his saboteurs in the Donbas.
However, the concept of special status has different meanings for the two presidents. For Poroshenko — and I think we will be convinced when we see the bill on the special status — it means only some kind of economic independence, multiplied by the rights of the local authorities. For Putin, this is some kind of blocking package. The Russian president does not need a special status for a few separate districts. What he needs, figuratively speaking, is for the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts to serve as a collective Yanukovych, since the real Yanukovych has fled.
But the “special status” of the individual districts does not achieve this. It fails all the more so if the economic portion of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement comes into force only after 18 months. It is unclear how exactly these “separate areas” of Donetsk and Luhansk will differ from the rest of the country — aside from the fact, naturally, that thugs have become entrenched there. After all, the main problem for the economy of these regions has been the possible termination of cooperation with Russia. And now the economy is destroyed, and the cooperation is not ending. In any case, Moscow has no economic pretexts to reconsider this cooperation, since it is now involved in the negotiation process.
Therefore, from a political point of view, we are in a locked room, and Vladimir Putin has the keys. If he stops supporting the terrorists in the Donbas and stops sending troops there, the issue will be resolved without particular problems — even without the special status. If the tensions in the Donbas continue, no law will be able to integrate the territories seized by the terrorists into the fabric of the Ukrainian state. Moreover, they will remain a constant source of tension and war, and the self-proclaimed leaders of the so-called “people’s republics” will seek to generate conflict even when their Moscow keepers lose interest in it. Because these people know nothing other than fighting. And because only war can hide the fact that the region they control is doomed to complete, boundless devastation.Radio Svoboda, translated by Anna Mostovych