Article by: Taras Klochko
The announcement today by the main terrorist of the so-called “DNR,” Aleksandr Zakharchenko, that he was not interested in negotiations with Kyiv and would fight until victory is essentially an announcement of the final abandonment of the Minsk agreements.
Today Russian mass media was repeating another Zakharchenko statement in which he finally buried the already feeble peace agreements. The essence of the terrorist’s passionate speech boils down to three points.
– No negotiations with Kyiv except for the exchange of prisoners.
– The “DNR” will advance up to the administrative boundaries of the Donetsk Oblast “in three directions simultaneously” and then will decide about further advances, but it will certainly advance if threatened.
– Kyiv has to recognize the independence of the terrorist republics and only then will it be possible to have “neighborly relations” with Kyiv.
Subsequently, Zakharchenko added that negotiations are still possible but only if Petro Poroshenko takes part in them personally, fully aware that this is impossible. “I see no reason to have negotiations. We made that mistake once already and will not do so again. If Poroshenko comes, we will talk. Right now we’re advancing. What negotiations?” he declared.
All this can mean only one thing — the terrorists have finally abandoned the Minsk agreements and now a new ceasefire in the Donbas will be possible only after the complete destruction of the self-declared “republics.” Or, a new negotiating process with new conditions for a ceasefire will be required. It is no secret that Zakharchenko is not an independent figure and is not authorized to make similar strategic decisions. Therefore, the DNR chieftain has simply repeated the plan of Putin, who has finally decided on further escalation.
The Russian president has not yet personally commented on Zakharchenko’s announcement, but he did express his views on the events in Ukraine. Putin limited himself to the traditional rhetoric on Ukraine’s responsibility for the conflict and again emphasized that he has not received an answer from Kyiv to his proposed plan to withdraw weaponry, adding that Ukraine has decided to conduct full-scale fighting instead. Putin, obviously, was silent about the fact that Ukraine is actually defending itself and only responding to attacks by the terrorists.
Therefore, it is most likely that we should expect an even greater intensification of the Russian-terrorist troops in the Donbas, where Putin will continue to send task force battalions of “lost paratroopers” to the “Novorossiya republics,” along with all the required heavy weaponry.
Terrorist troops, reinforced by Putin’s “little green men,” will try to break through the defense lines of Ukrainian army, take control and considerably expand the occupied territory. At the same time, they will find it useful to surround a few important Ukrainian territories and to threaten to occupy neighboring oblasts — for example, Kharkiv and Zaporizhia. Afterwards, they might consider beginning new negotiations under new conditions from a position of strength. Under the threat of further military chaos, they could demand the cancellation or at least a substantial decrease of Western sanctions and Kyiv’s recognition of “DNR/LNR” in exchange for ending the war.
Confirmation of a similar plan will appear soon in the repetition of the theses pronounced by Zakharchenko by his LNR counterpart Igor Plotnitsky.
On the other hand, one cannot exclude the possibility that Zakharchenko’s declaration is simply his initiative that has not been coordinated with the Kremlin. The terrorist leader could have blurted out a personal “militantly patriotic” message without thinking too much about the consequences. In that case, the serious “wise men” in Moscow would need to urgently explain to the “DNR leader” that he has deviated from the main course of action and therefore a new statement would have to appear negating the previous one.
But, whatever the situation, full-scale military action is already taking place, and the scale of the plans of Putin’s terrorists in no way changes the priority of the tasks facing Ukraine — to held the line of defense and to do so in such fashion that Putin’s advance gets stuck where it began, at the ceasefire line.