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Why did Putin defer the separatist “referendum”?

Why did Putin defer the separatist “referendum”?

1395936165_putin_373x300Putin’s call to postpone the separatist referendum until a later date is a tactic to legalize the division of Ukraine on the day of the presidential elections.

Putin’s appeal to the separatists has as its goal the legalization of the referendum on the independence of the Donetsk and Luhansk “People’s Republics” by holding it on the same day as the presidential elections in Ukraine on May 25.

The tactical execution will be as follows: the separatists supposedly will listen to Putin but still will not give up their weapons. Although, possibly, they may decrease their military activities somewhat. They will explain their changed behavior simply: “We listened to Putin and postponed the referendum. Besides, Kyiv agreed to exchange three of our people, including the “People’s Governor” of the Donetsk Oblast Pavlo Gubarev, for the captured “Alpha” soldiers. However, this is not enough for victory, so we will fight on.”

At the same time, Kyiv will not halt the anti-terrorist operation in Donbas, as has already been stated by Serhiy Pashynsky, the acting head of the presidential administration.”All the terrorists in Sloviansk and Kramatorsk will be destroyed or captured,” Pashynsky said. According to Kremlin’s calculation, such a response was expected, since any decision to halt the anti-terrorist operation now would risk rejection by Ukrainian society.

Thus, tensions in the region do not diminish but new opportunities for conducting presidential elections open up. According to the plan, Kyiv will be forced to open the voter registration rosters in the two rebellious oblasts. The councils of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, which, in fact, have sworn their allegiance to the separatists are also supporting Putin’s appeal for postponing the date of the referendum until May 25. The demand will be made to Kyiv to conduct the referendum together with the presidential elections — either the presidential elections will not take place at all, or they will be conducted according to the scenario described above.

In other words, Kyiv will be asked to agree to the legalization of the pseudo referendum. In addition, there will be hundreds of international observers, including from the OSCE, during the presidential elections, especially in Eastern Ukraine. Election day will go by peacefully, and the observers will be forced to admit that the elections were held in accordance with democratic standards. And this means that the “referendum” giving Russia the required results will have taken place “democratically” as well. Both in Donetsk and in Luhansk oblasts they know how to falsify the needed numbers. It’s not a secret for anyone.

After that, the same oblast councils will recognize the results of the “referendum,” and so will Russia. The West will be placed in a very awkward situation: either recognize this and that or not recognize anything.

In short, Putin’s conciliatory statements are a means, above all, to gain time, to deprive the West of reasons to expand sanctions, and to “rebuild” Russia’s reputation regarding its involvement with the separatist activities in Donbas and Luhansk. Now Putin can say: “I did everything that I could. I urged the postponement of the referendum. I urged meeting at the negotiations table. I withdrew troops. And look, Kyiv has not stopped the anti-terrorist operation. This is why the residents of ‘New Russia’ have no other option than self-determination regarding independence.”

The adroitness of Putin’s move is evidenced by the incredible efficiency of the separatists who, in less than twenty minutes from the announcement by the Russian president, were able to comment on it. On the news ticker of RIA Novosti the news appeared at 16:34 Kyiv time, and in just 13 minutes, at 16:47 Kyiv time, the co-chairman of the National Council of the so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic” Myroslav Rudenko stated to another Russian news agency, RBC TV, that the “militia of the Donetsk People’s Republic” will consider the appeal of the Russian President Putin to postpone the referendum. However, he specified, the preparation for the referendum continues. Therefore, it is clear the journalists and the separatists had been advised of Putin’s planned appeal in advance.

Editorial by

Original Ukrainian text:
Translated by Anna Mostovych

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