Archival Photo: Denis Sinyakov/Reuters
Article by: Vitaliy Portnikov
If the Kremlin decides to recognize the “people’s republics” in the Donbas, the next step will be the legalization of their military fighter groups according to the Ossetian example. The military units formally will become part of the Armed Services of Russia, and service in them will be equated to service in the Russian army.
The Minister of Defense of the self-proclaimed Republic of South Ossetia, Ibrahim Gassiev, has announced that “army” units of this Russian-occupied territory of Georgia will be incorporated into the Russian Armed Forces. The appropriate agreement will be signed as early as this year, and after its implementation, Russia will begin to recognize service in the armed forces of South Ossetia as equal to service in the Russian army.
Russia has long demanded the signing of the agreement. Oddly enough, the incorporation of the army of Southern Ossetia into the Russian armed forces was blocked by the Ossetians themselves, who wished to retain control over the systematic theft of the money that Russia allocated to their “army.” But Russia found arguments that outweighed the corrupt interests of the fighters.
However, the decision on the actual liquidation of the South Ossetian army indicates that Russia is tired of pretending to be an “intermediary” and “defender of the oppressed Ossetians.” This is a commonplace occupation that has nothing to do with the desire to help some new “state.”
The recognition of the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia was only a phase, to be followed by the annexation of Georgian territories. The fact that this has not happened so far is due to the resistance of the local elites — especially the Abkhaz. But in South Ossetia, a referendum on joining Russia will be held as early as this year.
And it is possible that afterwards Moscow will announce the “reunification of the Ossetian people” and will formally annex part of the territory of the Georgian republic. If before the annexation of Crimea it was still possible to imagine that someone in the Kremlin was interested in international law, now it is obvious that Putin and company do not care about any norms.
The example of South Ossetia may prove instructive for the Donbas. The military units formed in the occupied territories are, in fact, already part of the Armed Services of the Russian Federation, managed by the Russian military.
If the Kremlin decides to recognize the “people’s republics,” then the next step will be the legalization of the military fighter groups according to the Ossetian example: the units will formally become part of the Armed Services of Russia, and service in them will be equal to service in the Russian army.
There will be de facto annexation of Ukrainian territory, which will be protected against the “Kyiv aggressor” by a real Russian army. And Ukraine’s attempts to liberate its own territory will be considered an attack on Russia itself, on its own military.
It is this type of “creeping” annexation” that Moscow is now carrying out in South Ossetia.