Russia will not take back the Donbass because it is worried about all of Ukraine

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 4/6/2015

Russia will not take back the Donbass because it is worried about all of Ukraine

By Pyotr Akopov

Translated from Russian by J.Hawk

Reports that during the Minsk-2 meeting Poroshenko offered
Putin to take the Donbass were denied both by Moscow and Kiev. Nevertheless, the
proposal is consistent with the logic of both the so-called government in Kiev
and its US curators. Just as is Russia’s refusal to entertain such an option.

The information on Poroshenko’s proposal was published by
Forbes in an article which revealed details of Putin’s meeting with prominent
Russian business figures on March 19. At a closed meeting with the board of
directors of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP), Putin
allegedly discussed in detail various aspects of the Ukrainian crisis, from sanctions
to Novorossia. According to Forbes, Putin said that at the Minsk-2 meeting
Poroshenko proposed that Russia take Donbass:

“He told me flatly: take the Donbass. I answered: have you
gone nuts? I don’t need the Donbass. If you don’t need it, announce its
independence.”

As the discussion continued, Poroshenko allegedly made it
understood to Putin that the Ukrainian authorities could not recognize Donbass’
independence, to which Putin replied that in such case Kiev ought to pay the
pensions and benefits of the inhabitants of the South East, and to restore the
banking system.

One of the participants of Putin’s meeting at the Union
confirmed what Putin said to Forbes, adding a number of details: Poroshenko
proposed that Russia take the financial responsibility for the Donbass. Putin
replied that it would be possible only if Donbass became part of Russia, but as
long as it is part of Ukraine, all payments should be made by Ukraine.

The reaction to these revelations was immediate. Ukrainian
MFA representative Evgeniy Perebiynis wrote on Twitter that Poroshenko did not
mean “take Donbass” but “get the hell out of Donbass”. Putin’s press secretary
Peskov said that “it’s not a good thing if some participants of this meeting
discussed its contents. May this be on their conscience, whether they told the
truth or not,” adding that he was not about to comment, just as he never
comments on what happens during Putin’s closed meetings. The head of RSPP Aleksandr Shokhin said that Putin’s words were not rendered
correctly, but he refused to clarify what Putin really said.

Therefore Kiev denied the proposal categorically and Moscow
denied it in a slightly more round-about way. Nevertheless, it does not mean it
did not happen—moreover, Poroshenko’s behavior fits perfectly well with Kiev’s
logic.

Of course, Poroshenko would not propose to Putin to take
Donbass in so many words, but it is apparent even from the retold words of
Putin that the Russian president did not attribute such a statement to Ukraine’s
leader: the idea was for Moscow to become responsible for supporting the
Donbass, in other words, to finance those territories which are not under Kiev’s
control. There is nothing surprising in this—many representatives of the
Ukrainian government have been in favor of asking Russia to provide money for
the Donbass. For example, Prime Minister Yatsenyuk, only a few days after the
Minsk meeting, said:

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“Concerning Donbass reconstruction. I think it would be
logical to raise the question of reparations from the Russian Federation. They
destroyed the Donbass. Therefore Russia ought to pay for restoring Donetsk and
Lugansk.”

This is aside from the fact that Ukraine has already long
stopped paying pensions and benefits in the regions which rose up against Kiev—Putin
more than once pointed out this strange attitude toward one’s own citizens.
Therefore Kiev wants for Moscow to finance Donetsk, so Poroshenko could have been referring to the matter of region’s financial support. Moreover, he could have said that in
response to Putin’s chiding him for refusing to fulfill his obligations to the
millions of Donbass Novorossia in terms of paying pensions and benefits. We are
not going to pay the separatists, you already support them, therefore you should pay their
pensions—Poroshenko might have said something like that.

Poroshenko could not have failed to understand that a
similar proposal means a de-facto first step by Kiev toward recognizing
Novorossia’s separation, and even toward disavowing it. That’s what Putin
pointed out by answering that as long as the Donbass is part of Ukraine, all
payments ought to originate in Kiev, but if Poroshenko no longer needs the
Donbass, let him declare it to be separate from Ukraine. But why did Poroshenko
made such a proposal—was it only out of the desire to shift the region’s
financing onto Russia?

Of course not—he genuinely wants for Russia to take the Donbass.
He cannot say it publicly, but that’s what he is asking Putin to do, that’s
what he is hinting at. It’s no wonder that Putin correctly understood
Poroshenko’s hint—even if he did not say at the RSPP meeting that Ukraine’s
president offered him to take the Donbass. Putin can see and understand that
Poroshenko wants to be rid of Novorossia—and he is not about allow Poroshenko
to do that. Why does Poroshenko want to do this, and why is Putin refusing?

For Poroshenko, getting rid of Novorossia is not only the
only chance to retain power, it is also the only chance to continue Ukraine’s
eurointegration, even if it means a country smaller in size. It is precisely
the “atlanticization” of the “independent one” that’s the main task facing the
Kiev government and most of Ukraine’s elite, just as the most important goal
for the US is to prevent the reintegration of historical Russia, which implies Ukraine’s
final and irreversible departure to the West.

Of course, with the development of the Ukrainian crisis, and
after Russia’s Crimean answer and the war in Novorossia, more and more
Anglo-Saxon strategists are viewing Ukraine as a means of escalating the
prolonged bloody conflict with Russia, on the principle “if I can’t seduce
Ukraine, at least I can cause problems for Russia.” They are realists—those who
already understand that the Ukrainian kidnapping blitzkrieg had failed, and
that it’s pointless to “atlanticize” Ukraine in its entirety or even in part,
which means that the tactics of Russia’s containment should be changed by shifting to a
prolonged war for the sake of weakening Russia and not acquiring Ukraine. But
that point of view has not prevailed yet—the majority is still in favor of
seducing Ukraine westward.

Not in its entirety—let’s hope that only a small number of
the most radical and divorced from reality strategists still believe in that—but
certainly the bulk of Ukraine. Crimea sailed away, Donbass rose up, Russia is ready for anything—it means that separatist regions should be separated to prevent the
spread of the “disease.” Place European or UN peacekeepers on the border with
Novorossia (it’s no accident that Kiev is promoting this idea with increasing
energy) and start establishing order in the rest of Ukraine, preparing its “eurointegration
(which in actuality means merely passing under the Atlantic umbrella).

The supporters of this plan are assuming that Russia will
not intervene—moreover, for some reason it ought to accept Western promises it will
guarantee Ukraine’s neutral status (promises which, naturally, can be broken at
any moment, though only after sufficient time has passed to dull Russia’s
vigilance). This plan is not popular among the Ukrainian elite—no Kiev
politician can say that the abandonment of the Donbass would bring any
benefits. But the thought itself is on the minds of the Ukrainian society, and
it will take over the masses at the necessary moment.

Poroshenko is nevertheless more of a realist than many other
representatives of the Kiev “elite”—and he understands that the Donbass is lost
not only to him or the current government, but to the entire pro-Western
Ukraine as such. Worse, it’s not merely lost—it even threatens the entire
Westernization project. Which means that the Donbass ought to be given to
Russia, but in such a way so it does not look like treason in the eyes of
militant Ukrainians. It would be ideal if Russia could take Novorossia on its
own, even annexed it or at least declared its independence. Then it would be
possible to unhook the railcars and send what’s left of the train westward.

But there’s a problem—Putin stubbornly refuses to “annex”
Novorossia. The thousands of Donbass dead, the shouting that “Putin has
abandoned us”, the sincere lack of understanding by many both in Novorossia and
in Russia—and he is still not taking the Donbass. Moscow is helping the Donbass
in many ways—with people, food, medicine, money, actions, but it is not threatening
to declare Novorossia’s independence even on the level of propaganda war. If
this continues, Poroshenko will start publicly demanding—take the damn Donbass,
you occupier snakes, just leave us alone. But Moscow will still reply as before: you
really should figure out how to live with one another as parts of Ukraine.

This is not cynicism, not the lack of willingness to
acknowledge Russia’s involvement in Ukraine’s affairs, not a refusal to support
the Russian Space and national interests—it is a long-term struggle for these
principles, based on sober calculation. Russia will not take Novorossia because
it is worried about all of Ukraine, which cannot and should not remain under the
power of “elites” advancing the westernization of this part of the Russian
Space. Novorossia will change, reformat, reinstitutionalize Ukraine and that
process will not be stopped, not by Kiev’s desire to be rid of it, not by
mythical peacekeepers.

Russia cannot take away Poroshenko’s problems because they
are not in the Donbass but in the anti-Russian choice which was made by
Ukrainian oligarchs and politicians. But Poroshenko cannot turn away from the
West, therefore he is trying to be rid of the Donbass—in such a way that it
looks like Russian annexation and not a result of a civil war. It’s not going
to happen—the civil war is not yet over, and Russia is in no hurry: let’s wait
until all of Ukraine is renewed. Why should we want only the Donbass or even
the whole of Novorossia—we are awaiting them together with Malorossia. As part
of the Eurasian Union or even Russia itself—depending on what we agree on.

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