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The status of the Donbas “republics”

The status of the Donbas “republics”
Article by: Vitaliy Portnikov
Translated by: Anna Mostovych

The proposals put forth by the representatives of the so-called “people’s republics” at the Minsk talks may be surprising at first glance. After all, there is no mention in the Minsk agreements of the quasi-official status of the DNR and LNR. On the contrary, the discussion is about the features of local self-government in each separate region. And these regions are not supposed to be linked to each other through one center. Then where did the idea about broad autonomy, parliaments, governments, and even presidents of the republics come from?

But this idea has never gone away. Both Vladimir Putin and Sergey Lavrov voiced the concept of federalizing Ukraine even before the beginning of the war in the Donbas. Moreover, the Russian leaders explained quite clearly that they were not even talking about federalization according to the German example but about a confederation where each entity would have veto power over the most important decisions of the government. The goal is obvious — to block the European and Euro-Atlantic integration of Ukraine one way or another. The rest you already know — the destruction of Ukrainian statehood ( as well as the statehoods of Belarus, Kazakhstan and other former Soviet republics), incorporation into another state — the Eurasian Union — whose president Putin want to be. And if you think that Moscow has abandoned this nonsense under the pressure of economic collapse  you are mistaken. This nonsense is a kind of psychosis. Putin will never give up the idea of recreating the USSR.

Even after the start of the Minsk negotiations, the Russian puppets proposed constitutional changes that would enable individual regions to unite in associations — in effect, states — with their own parliaments, government and influence on Ukraine. And, by the way, the Kremlin is not inventing anything. This is exactly the same kind of status that the Republika Srpska (Serb Republic), among others, received in Bosnia and Herzegovina. And, more recently, the Serb regions of Kosovo, who also received the right to create their own government, parliament, and to determine linguistic identity. Sometimes it seems the Russians are copying legal prescriptions from the West.

But there is one significant difference. Bosnia, the Serb Republic, and Kosovo and its Serbian regions — and most importantly Serbia itself — are focused on European integration. There is no dilemma there. But it exists in Ukraine. With the help of the Russian occupied areas of the Donbas, Russia is attempting to bind us to Mordor again (a bleak region in J. R. R. Tolkien’s fictional universe –Ed) .

This is precisely why Ukraine must insist on the temporary nature of the special status of government in the Donbas regions after their de-occupation. This special status regime is not due to the fact that the people who live in these regions are somehow different but because this territory has been occupied by the enemy. And Ukraine should create the conditions for the return of its inhabitants to civilized life. Life without Putin, without rubles, murders, cruelty and fear — everything that we associate today with the “Russian world.” This is the essence of the entire special status regime.

But what if Russia wants to turn the occupied territories into Transnistria and we are not prepared to liberate them by military means? Then so be it. But this transformation will have to take place as in the “real” Transnistria — in other words outside the jurisdiction of Ukrainian laws. And it is completely unnecessary to change the Ukrainian Constitution for the benefit of “Transnistria.”

Translated by: Anna Mostovych
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