Who is responsible for the Donbas “prisoners”?



Analysis & Opinion

Article by: Vitaliy Portnikov

President Poroshenko has actually admitted his willingness to distance himself from the occupied territories if the Minsk agreements are not carried out.

There is no reason to think that it was mere coincidence that the battle near Mariinka was launched shortly before Poroshenko was to speak in parliament. More likely the intent (of the attack) was not even to demonstrate strength but instability. And it is important to understand that each time this demonstration of instability takes place it comes with the Russian call for surrender. Agree to our terms or else we will never leave you alone. This is in fact what Putin is saying through his attacks. The only question is what does he want. Strategically, he wants to control Ukraine and the entire post-Soviet space. But this is a dream. The tactical goal of the Russian ruler is the reintegration of the Donbas on his terms. In other words, Donbas remains under his control but is formally considered a part of Ukraine. And this gives Putin the ability to dictate his terms to the entire country.

Poroshenko did not simply express disagreement with these conditions, he actually admitted a willingness to distance himself from the occupied territories if the Minsk agreements are not carried out. The Ukrainian formula is simple — elections to local government, Ukrainian control over the border and only then restoration of economic ties and social benefits. The Russian formula is completely the opposite — begin paying money immediately and then we’ll see.

It is probably unnecessary to explain that most of the people who ended up in the occupied territories are inclined toward the Russian rather than the Ukrainian vision. Because they need salaries, pensions, jobs and want to have some confidence in the future. They do not really care who controls the border. This is because even earlier they did not notice any border. If anything the border irritated them since it appeared out of nowhere and interfered with travel to neighboring cities to visit family or to shop. Poroshenko considers such people Russian prisoners. They see themselves rather as hostages of the situation. And they completely fail to understand why the Russian-Ukrainian border should remain closed.

For these residents the ideal solution would be for Ukraine to continue to pay money without interfering with anything and for there to be no border with Russia. They once had a state that functioned that way. It was the Soviet Union.

The impossibility of returning to that state is their greatest disappointment and Putin’s greatest weakness. It appears the Russian president has failed to understand the type of country that most of the Donbas residents would like to live in. It is not Russia or Novorossiya but the USSR. And since the Soviet Union cannot be restored, then sooner of later they will have to make a completely different choice  — to return to Ukraine or to live in a homeless enclave.

In order for this choice to be fair and honest, Ukraine must not entertain the illusion that there is any possibility at all of returning the Donbas on Russian terms. And for that, a real border must be created between the free part of the country and the occupied territories — in order to put an end to the devious plots, and to hold the occupier responsible for the “prisoners.”

Only then will all this madness stop.

Translated by: Anna Mostovych
Source: Espreso TV

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  • Jack McColley

    Right on! Why should Ukraine pay to restore what Russia has destroyed? Ukraine can live without Donbas. Donbas cannot live without Ukraine, and Putin is not going to support it. He has no money to do so. He can’t support Crimea or his own people.

  • Rods

    Excellent article and I totally agree with your sentiments.

    Next year, Russia is going to run out of money and then Putin is going to have to make some hard self-preservation decisions and one of those is ending an expensive war, where Ukraine will be in a much stronger position to dictate terms.

    Unfortunately, there is going to be Putin’s summer offensive for Ukraine to endure first, so we mustn’t look too far ahead, yet.

  • puttypants

    It seems that’s the only alternative. My fear is that won’t be enough for Putin. What will happen in kharkiv or Odesa?

  • Vol Ya

    Very well written article. Hopefully the author has the ear of President Poroshenko. Ukraine needs to fortify its existing border with russia and also with the Russian rebels. There is no rush or no reason to admit the Russian rebel controlled Donbas back into Ukraine unless the conditions are favorable to Ukraine. In the mean time let putin foot the bill for the mess in the Donbas.