Igor Strelkov claimed Donbas was in a state of humanitarian catastrophe. In the same interview he said that he felt no guilt, as he “was doing my duty as I saw it.” It seems that his duty was coming to a peaceful region, occupying cities, promising to the people a repeat of what happened in Crimea, starting a full-scale war and leaving for Moscow at the moment when the situation hit rock bottom.
This especially stands out in light of the news that Ukraine refused to pay social support to the people living on the territory that is out of Kyiv’s control. ‘DNR’ and ‘LNR’ leaders have had enough time to be indignant, and now want to pay their dues. However, it’s either this or that. ‘DNR’ and pensions from Kyiv cannot coexist.
In the same interview Igor Strelkov talks about how he went from Crimea to Donbas, how he took Ukrainian cities under his own control, how he started the conflict in the east of the country step by step. This self-deprecation session of the under-officer’s wife is notable by the fact that the former command of the ‘DNR’ army openly admits that Ukraine did not attack Donbas, and only defended itself from people like Strelkov. And if not for him, as well as his companions from Russia, the citizens of the region would have kept seeing war only on TV screens.
I want Crimeans to read this interview. The same ones who continue posting on social media that the ‘Russian World’ will be inevitably victorious in individually occupied Donbas. The same ones who applauded the ‘heroes of Novorosiya’ and predicted that the region would change its citizenship quickly. Do they even understand that Donbas has no future, and that the region’s only chance was remaining part of Ukraine?
I remember how my colleague from Crimea wrote before the referendum in March that the history of the peninsula is similar to a fairy tale, in which the main character marries a millionaire for love. Her feelings, like the feelings of many other pro-Russian Crimeans, were comprehensible. All of them got Russia without making any effort. Because the resident of the Kremlin woke up on the side of the bed that suited them at a certain moment.
However, this is the thing; Crimea and Donbas are two different finales of the same story about decentralization. The peninsula had a happy ending: everything happened quickly, with relatively little blood, and the region itself is not trying to get used to the role of a military naval Potemkin village. Donbas is the exact opposite. Long and stubborn war with the Ukrainian army, devastated industry, a complete lack of prospects and financing from both Ukraine and Russia.
Russia doesn’t need Novorossiya; it only needs a noose to put around Kyiv’s neck to contain its drift towards the West. Moscow will not tie itself to social troubles in the shape of ineffective industries and a paternalistic society. The Crimeans who encouraged Donbas look like a schoolboy who successfully jumped out the window. Those who followed their example were less fortunate and broke their spine.
However, the main conclusion of this whole story is that Donbas closed the opportunity for Novorossiya to get new supporters. They may want to be Crimea, where soldiers from another country will come and do everything they have to. But they don’t want to be Donbas, even the elections in which Russia decided to “respect but not acknowledge.” Kharkiv and Zaporizhya, Kherson and Odesa now have a clear understanding of what kind of future awaits any Ukrainian region where Igor Strelkov comes to tour.
Some people call this kissing the illusions goodbye.