Russia will recognize the independence of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced.
“Ukraine is not just a neighbour to us, but an inherent part of our history, culture and spiritual space. They are our comrades…our family, people we have blood and family ties with,” Putin said.
“Modern Ukraine was completely created by Russia, more precisely by Communist Russia. This process was started after the 1917 Revolution,” Putin said. The president suggested that Ukraine saw its territory expand at “historic Russia’s” expense after the Revolution, at Poland’s expense after the Second World War. He also recalled that Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev cut Crimea off from the Russian Soviet republic’s jurisdiction and handed it over to the Ukrainian Soviet republic in the 1950s.
After the collapse of the USSR, Putin said, Ukraine was taken over by nationalist elites and oligarchs who had “nothing to do with” its independence. At the same time, Putin recalled that Russia continued to work with post-Soviet Ukraine, to act in an “open and honest manner with respect to Ukraine’s interests,” including through growing trade cooperation, which reached tens of billions of dollars by the early 2010s.
The Russian president signed the corresponding documents and asked the Federal Assembly to support the signing of treaties of cooperation with the Donbass breakaways.
“Ukraine is not just a neighbour to us, but an inherent part of our history, culture and spiritual space. They are our comrades…our family, people we have blood and family ties with,” Putin said in a speech Monday night outlining his decision.
“Modern Ukraine was completely created by Russia, more precisely by Communist Russia. This process was started after the 1917 Revolution,” Putin said. The president suggested that Ukraine saw its territory expand at “historic Russia’s” expense after the Revolution, and at Poland’s expense after the Second World War. He also recalled that Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev cut Crimea off from the Russian Soviet republic’s jurisdiction and handed it over to the Ukrainian Soviet republic in the 1950s.
After the collapse of the USSR, Putin said, Ukraine was taken over by nationalist elites and oligarchs who had “nothing to do with” its independence. At the same time, Putin recalled, Russia continued to work with post-Soviet Ukraine, to act in an “open and honest manner with respect to Ukraine’s interests,” including through growing trade cooperation, which reached tens of billions of dollars by the early 2010s.
Putin suggested Ukrainian radicals backed by US forces took advantage of popular anger over corruption in 2014 to stage a coup, with the country’s current ‘patriotic’ authorities leading the country toward desovereignization and total subservience to the West, while marginalizing the Russian-speaking community and undermining the rights of Orthodox believers.
Putin accused the current authorities in Ukraine of seeking to drag other countries into a war with Russia. “We have also heard statements about Ukraine threatening to create a nuclear weapon,” he noted. The Russian president suggested this was not an “idle threat,” with Ukraine possessing Soviet-era nuclear and delivery technology to build such a weapon. “We cannot help but react to this real threat,” he warned. Putin added that Moscow could not exclude the threat of Ukraine receiving assistance from the West in building a nuke, given the billions of dollars in military assistance already sent to Ukraine by NATO nations.
Putin warned that Ukraine’s entry into the Western alliance would constitute a direct threat to Russia’s security, and that the alliance’s training centers already established in the country amount to military bases – something illegal under Ukraine’s own constitution.
Putin recalled that despite posing no threat to the Western alliance after the Cold War, Russia has received five waves of NATO expansion – despite promises in the early 1990s not to do so. “They just lied to us,” he said.
The Russian president also pointed to the deployment of dual-use US missile defence systems in Eastern Europe which can be used to strike targets in Russia, and said the military threat to Moscow will increase “manyfold” as the number of these systems inevitably grows. He added that the deployment of NATO radar equipment in Ukraine would allow them to effectively control airspace inside Russia.
Putin recalled the security guarantee proposals by Russia in December, but said that unfortunately, the West has rejected them and threatened to introduce new sanctions and otherwise attempt “to contain the development of Russia.” These proposals, he recalled, includin
Earlier Monday, speaking an emergency session of the Russian Security Council in the Kremlin, Putin said that the negotiations process on the Donbass has reached a dead-end.
He also specified that the discussion on the future of the self-proclaimed republics was about recognizing them as independent states, not a matter of their becoming part of Russia.
Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of Russia’s lower house of parliament, asked Putin to to consider the parliamentary appeal approved last week to recognize the DPR and LNR as independent states. The lawmaker pointed out that over 1.2 million residents of the Donbass have already applied for Russian citizenship.
For her part, Valentina Matviyenko, chairwoman of the Federation Council – Russia’s upper house of parliament, said the time had come to make a decision on the Donbass, and called the situation in the region a “humanitarian disaster and genocide” in the heart of Europe. She noted that throughout the 7+ year conflict, Russia has consistently stood in favour of a diplomatic and political solution to the conflict.
“No one listened to us. There was an imitation of the Minsk Agreements,” she said. At the same time, the chairwoman accused the West of trying to push Russians and Ukrainians, two fraternal Slavic peoples, into a war.
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin expressed support for the measure, saying it would be appropriate in the absence of any progress on the Minsk Agreements. He added that officials have spent some time preparing for the West’s potential reaction to a Russian recognition of the Donbass, with these risks said to be accounted for.
Later Monday, in connection with the comments made by officials at the Russian Security Council meeting, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky declared that he has carried out urgent consultations with President Emmanuel Macron of France and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and called a meeting of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine.
Putin also spoke with Macron and Scholz, telling them he intends to sign a decree on Donbass. According to the Kremlin, the French and German leaders expressed ‘disappointment’.
Eight Years of War
The conflict in the Donbass has its origins in the February 2014 Maidan coup d’etat in Kiev, in which Ukraine’s unpopular but democratically elected government was overthrown by political forces favouring integration with the European Union and NATO at the expense of ties with Russia.
In the spring of 2014, demonstrators across eastern and southern Ukraine opposed to the new government’s pro-Western orientation and perceived efforts to clamp down on the Russian-speaking regions began organizing protests and independence movements. The strongest of these were concentrated in the Russia-bordering regions of Donetsk and Lugansk. Kiev responded to the independence push by trying to crush these movements with military force, leading to the formation of local militias by local residents seeking to defend their homes, and the proclamation of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics in May 2014. Elsewhere, in major eastern and southern regions including Kharkiv, Nikolayev and Odessa, anti-Kiev and pro-independence protesters were systematically jailed, assassinated, and disappeared.
A full-scale civil war raged throughout the Donbass between May 2014 and February of 2015, killing at least 13,000 people, injuring thousands more and prompting over 2.5 million of the region’s residents flee their homes, with over a million seeking refuge in Russia.
In February 2015, the leaders from Ukraine and the three guarantor states of Russia, France and Germany met in the Belarusian capital of Minsk to hammer out the Minsk Agreements, a comprehensive ceasefire and peace deal aimed at ending the conflict in the Donbass and reintegrating the Donetsk and Lugansk back into Ukraine in exchange for broad, constitutionally mandated autonomy. Although the ceasfire portion of Minsk has generally held (apart from the dramatic escalation of fighting witnessed in the past week), successive Ukrainian governments failed for years to make any progress on implementing the deal’s political portion. In 2019, an attempt to do so by then newly elected President Volodymyr Zelensky was aborted after tens of thousands of protesters, including veterans of the Donbass war and ultra-nationalist militias, gathered in Kiev and threatened to overthrow his government.
The uneasy peace in the Donbass was interrupted late last week by artillery and mortar shelling, sniper attacks, saboteur bombings and other acts of violence, with Organization for Security Co-Operation in Europe observers registering hundreds of violations of the ceasefire by both sides. Last Friday, in response to the escalation, DPR and LPR leaders announced a general mobilization and began to evacuate their civilian populations to Russia. On Monday, DPR and LPR heads Denis Pushilin and Leonid Pasechnik formally askedPutin to recognise their status as independent nations.
Credit & Publication: Sputnik Radio Team. Published: February 22nd 2022. Source Link: https://sputniknews.com/20220221/russia-recognises-donbass-republics-independence-1093241178.html