Comment Russia's aggressive policy: Déjà-vu in Donbass

Comment on Russia's aggressive policy

The Kremlin thinks after the election in Ukraine once again, having to create facts. This is miserable and fire dangerous.

Resident of the Crimea shows her Ukrainian and her new Russian passport

Putin wants to turn Ukrainians into Russians who then have to be protected (archive image) Photo: Reuters

The new president of Ukraine, Volodimir Selensky, is not even in office – and the government in Moscow is already demonstrating how it plans to shape future relations with its neighbor. True to the motto "create facts, even with weapons".

The decree of Russia's head of state Vladimir Putin, which aims to provide citizens in the territories of Lugansk and Donetsk controlled by pro-Russian fighters unbureaucratically to Russian citizenship, is another threat to Kiev's war. And a Déjà-vu: It is known that the Kremlin likes to send a few tanks past to protect its compatriots, who are threatened with life and limb abroad.

What that means, the Georgians know only too well. Even before the war over South Ossetia in 2008, there were Russian passports in circulation. The arms race then took place entirely in the spirit of the defense of human rights. Today, the breakaway and internationally unrecognized region is controlled by Russia. Their borders are inexorably shifting ever further into Georgia. Similarly, in Transnistria, which is de facto not controlled by the Republic of Moldova. Here too, in the last Soviet open-air museum in Europe, half the population has Russian passports. In view of the illegal presence of Russian "peacekeepers", the rulers in Chişinău have their thoughts.

But apart from the question of how poor a self-proclaimed great power must be, which means to enforce their interests only by force of arms, this status quo is dangerous. Because in other former Soviet republics it rumbles. So it is no coincidence that in Armenia's Prime Minister Nikol Paschinjan, who came to power in May last year after mass protests and a few months later won the parliamentary elections clearly, is trying hard not to provoke the Kremlin. After all, the South Caucasus republic houses the only Russian military base in the region with several thousand soldiers.

Belarus's autocratic permanent ruler, Alexander Lukashenko, is also in for trouble. The latter obviously has little inclination to reanimate the so far unattainable Union Treaty with Russia on the formation of a common state in 1999. For what meant for Putin the possibility of another presidency in the new state would mean for Belarus, just let themselves be incorporated. How this competition ends is still open. However, Moscow, as a main sponsor of the Belarusian economy, has its leverage.

Hard to beat for cynicism

As early as 2014, Moscow used the power vacuum in Kiev following the overthrow of then-President Viktor Yanukovych to virtually conquer the Crimea. Even the recent attack on Donbass, just a few days after the presidential election, not accidental and can hardly be surpassed in cynicism. After all, since 2014, the East of Ukraine has been shaken by a conflict in which there are now more than 14,000 casualties, fueling Russia – despite all false propaganda – to the best of its ability. An implementation of the Minsk Peace Agreement of 2015 is likely to become even less likely.

It is still unclear how future President Volodimir Selenski will react to this provocation, but he will not be able to avoid positioning. Unlike his predecessor Petro Poroshenko, however, he has a not to be underestimated political capital. He enjoys, as the election result shows, support across all previous dividing lines. This is also because he has so far renounced any polarization. This capital is now to be used. Then the shot for Putin and consorts could go backwards. It would be desirable – especially the people of Donbass.

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