During the first years of Soviet power, a Moscow newspaper published an article telling its readers how easy and potentially profitable it would be for them to form a national republic. According to the paper, they didn’t need a nation or anything like a set of institutions: they needed only paper on which to make a declaration.
The Russian government seems to have dusted off that old guidance and is now promoting the formation of republics not within the Russian Federation – there it is doing its best to destroy them – but rather inside a neighboring country – Ukraine – in the hopes that such republics will help Moscow destroy it.
The “Donetsk Peoples Republic” and the “Luhansk Peoples Republic” have been around for almost a year, and there has been talk about establishing other such formations in what Moscow and its supporters like to call “Novorossiya” in the southeastern portion of Ukraine. But the tactic of “republic creation” is spreading to other parts of that country as well.
In the last three days, two more such formations have declared themselves: a “Bessarabian Autonomy” in the southwestern part of Ukraine and the “Odesa Peoples Republic” in Ukraine’s Black Sea port. So far, the two have a virtual rather than a real existence, but they should be attended to because of what they say about Moscow’s strategy.
On Monday, Moscow’s “Nezavisimaya gazeta” reported today, delegates and some 100 guests including from Gagauzia and Bulgaria assembled in Odesa to create a “Peoples Council of Bessarabia” to press a demand that Kyiv grant it the status of a national-territorial autonomy within Ukraine.
Given the nature of the attendees and the potential for a group now demanding autonomy to want something more, officials and experts in both Kyiv and Chisinau are watching this development closely, the Moscow paper says. They would seem to have good reason to do so.
According to “Nezavisimaya gazeta,” the group says that its leader has disappeared and that the group fears that Ukrainian “repressions” against it has begun, a signal that someone – and most likely the usual suspect – has an interest in creating a more explosive situation in Odesa than the group’s explicit program would seem to involve.
According to a Russian news outlet, a second breakaway republic was formed in Odesa on Monday, the “Odesa Peoples Republic,” which has declared itself independent of Kyiv. That report has not been confirmed by other sources and may only be a propaganda effort intended to raise the political temperature in Ukraine.