- The suggestion was raised in Russian Duma to annex the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
- The timing also coincides with proposed Russian constitution amendments.
- It is convenient, since a majority of the world is focused on curbing the coronavirus pandemic.
The Russian State Duma member from Crimea, Andrey Kozenko, reiterated the necessity to “strengthen” so called support for the Donetsk People’s Republic, including for the region to be fully integrated into the Russian Federation territory. The Donetsk People’s Republic is a Russia backed proto-state in the eastern Ukrainian Oblast of Donetsk. The proto-state is recognized only by the partially recognized South Ossetia and Luhansk People’s Republic. The capital city is Donetsk and it was founded in 2014. This is the same year Russia orchestrated the farce of the referendum to annex Crimea.
The reason the Russian parliament entertained such an idea is that the timing coincides with the six year anniversary of the Crimea’s annexation.
Kozenko also suggested the full integration of the Luhansk People’s Republic into the Russian Federation. The Luhansk People’s Republic is a Russian backed state. It is located in Luhansk Oblast in the Donbass region, a territory internationally recognized to be a part of Ukraine. The capital is Luhansk.
Kozenko claims that if Donetsk and Luhansk joined Russia, they would avoid armed conflict with mass casualties, pointing to Crimea that did not suffer a civil war type of scenario with its annexation. Additionally, he suggested that Russian native speakers are suffering living in Ukraine. Kozenko believes that Russians living there should have a right to raise their families in line with Russian traditions. Therefore, this is a social engineering effort to justify the Kremlin’s interest in annexation and to split Ukraine,
It is perfect timing for Russia, since a majority of the world is focused on combating coronavius. The COVID-19 has spread around the world, resulting in closed borders, quarantines and wreaking havoc on global economies.
Donbass quietly has been integrating with Russia for sometime. So, what will happen to the Minsk Agreement?
A law adopted by the Donetsk People’s Republic makes Russian their official language. All the children in the region will be learning Russian and their academic progress would be rated under Russian standards. The Ukrainian education system differs from the Russian system, including different grading scales. The residents will stop learning the Ukrainian language.
It is plausible to believe, after Russian constitution amendments, that Putin will go after both regions. Since the proposed constitutional amendments announcement by Putin in January, the Russian government has been working overtime to push the process through. One of the main changes is the removal of term limits. Hence, Putin will be staying in power more than likely until 2036.
The timing of the annexation proposal coincides with the roaring coronavirus pandemic. Even, if COVID-19 can be curbed by the end of spring, economic recovery and a sense of normalcy will take awhile to achieve. It is a fruitful time for Putin to strike with the annexation. The West will be focused on its own economic stabilization. The US is also in the midst of a vigorous Democratic campaign to beat US President Donald Trump in the election this fall.
Putin will not stop until he achieves his interests, including undermining Ukraine.