Aleksandr Zakharchenko is self-proclaimed "Prime Minister" of the Russian-backed "Donetsk People's Republic". Photo: youtube screenshot
Article by: Nikolaus von Twickel
The leader of the Donetsk separatists, Alexander Zakharchenko, made it clear that his “people’s republic” wants to be recognized by Ukraine, thus adding yet another condition unacceptable to Kyiv in the ongoing negotiations about the Minsk agreement.
In the April 24 Izvestia interview, Zakharchenko said that it was too late to talk about a federation between Ukraine and his “republic”. After the bloodshed, for which he put the sole blame on Kyiv, “the people of Donbas will never give up the freedom and independence they fought for,” he said.
Zakharchenko added that maybe there could be talks between his “republic” as an independent state and Ukraine about a confederation. But for this to happen, there needs to be not just a change of power in Kyiv, but Ukraine’s “greedy and vicious” elite needs to be replaced. “The only place for (them) is either in court or in exile,” he said.
The separatist leader accused the current Ukrainian government to harbor plans of a large-scale population exchange. With its constant military attacks Kyiv wants to demoralize the population so that it is prepared to flee its homeland, he claimed.
The aim is “to free (our) land in order to let it be occupied by Ukrainians from central and western regions,” he said, adding that this process was already ongoing in the government-controlled parts of the Donetsk region. (There is no evidence to support Zakharchenko’s claim).
Kyiv has vehemently rejected any talk of a federation from the onset of the conflict and the Minsk agreement does not contain this term nor does it mention any “people’s republic”, just “certain areas” of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions.
Zakharchenko’s demands are likely to add to the already gargantuan task of achieving any progress in the ongoing talks, be they in Minsk or in the Normandy Format.