Today I will finish my summary with this piece from PolitNavigator, written by Viktoria Frolova, from Donetsk:
The Work Has Begun, To Move The Borders of the Donbass Republics Closer to Kiev
Recall that back in March, Alexander Zakharchenko, Prime Minister of the Donetsk Peoples Republic announced a new humanitarian initiative to help Donbass residents. Currently the Donbass region is divided into roughly three political parts: The Donetsk Peoples Republic; the Luhansk Peoples Republic; and areas under control of the Ukrainian federal government which, since 2014, has been in the hands of Ukrainian nationalist and fascist political parties. [NOTE: Not using the word “fascist” as a synonym for “something bad” or “something I don’t like”, but using it as a definition of a political platform and stated political lineage.]
I am not a historian and I won’t say that all fascist governments are incompetent — from what I understand, the Nazis in Germany (Hitler) and the fascists in Italy (Mussolini) improved the economies of their countries, raised GNP, lowered unemployment, and ran a tight ship, more or less. It was war and hubris, not economics, that ultimately brought them down.
In the case of modern Ukrainian nationalists, on the other hand, economic incompetence is intertwined with their political viciousness. As a result of their 3 years of mis-rule, the Ukrainian economy has gone into the toilet, and ordinary people are suffering badly.
In the Donbass region, people are also poor, and are also suffering. The Separatist areas are not well off, but at least the leaders there have access to a few external resources, which they are willing to share with their friends and relatives on the other side of the checkpoints.
One of the factors hampering the two Separatist areas in the past three years, in additional to Ukrainian blockades and shellings, etc., is the inability of the Seps themselves to unite their forces. It would seem like such a simple thing for Donetsk and Luhansk to unite into a single Separatist entity — after all, the people in the two areas are identical, no ethnic or cultural differences. The only obstacles are the usual ones: political/economic corruption, a clinging to power, better to rule in Hell than serve in Heaven, etc etc. There are signs, though, that things are changing; and that Mother Russia (who else?) may force these local actors to unite against a common enemy, whether they want to or not!
Viktoria writes that the humanitarian assistance program, about which we wrote yesterday, has as one of its goals, to reestablish the borders of the Separatist area (at which the Ukrainians have been tenaciously chipping away) as defined by the referendum of 11 May 2014. Recall that during this referendum, a majority of voters in both Donetsk and Luhansk voted to join Russia. But their wishes were ignored by the world, including by Russia. People complained that Russia threw them under the bus, and so she did; but, on the other hand, realistically, there was no way, within international law, for Russia to satisfy the wishes of these people at that time.
(Crimea was a different story, altogether, because it already had a standing as an Autonomy within international law.)
But three years have gone by, there have been many deaths and much destruction. The Minsk Peace Accords are dead in the water. Apparently Mother Russia has girded her loins and decided to try a different approach. Instead of tossing people under bus, maybe strapping them to the roof of bus.
Alexander Kazakov, chief advisor to Zakharchenko, at the roundtable meeting responding to some kind of jab about ideology: “The best ideology of all, is that which is backed up by concrete actions. The current [humanitarian] program is a model of an ideological step from the side of Donetsk and Luhansk, and is backed up by concrete actions.”
By “concrete actions” Kazakov means actual budgeting of financial and administrative resources to back up these programs to provide health services, education, and other humanitarian benefits to the residents of Donbass. Actual money has been allocated and spent. Which already puts Donbass 10 steps ahead of the Ukrainian government, which talks a good game but never delivers.
Kazakov: “As concerns ideology, all you need to know is the name of the program. I researched various sources, including social media, and this program has summoned up broad enthusiasm. In the name of the program itself can be seen those goals which the leader [Zakharchenko] of the Donetsk Peoples Republic (DPR) has declared as strategic. The unification of the people of Donbass presupposes concrete actions to move the line of demarcation further West, Soutwest, Northwest. The unification of the people of Donbass presupposes that the people who, on 11 May 2014 expressed their will in a referendum, will unite at last.”
Continuing to harp on that referendum, almost as if cramming Russia’s face in that past betrayal, which still rankles, Kazakov continued:
“I wish to remind everybody once again, that the foundation of the DPR is precisely that referendum, which was conducted on 11 May. All of the cities and regions where the referendum was held; and even those places where it was not allowed to be held — for example, in Dobropolie, but where people came out into the streets and expressed their will — even facing down tanks — all of this territory de jure is the territory of the DPR. And therefore our Program for the Reunification of the People of Donbass carries within its name a lot more than just (humanitarian) assistance to our citizens who find themselves living in territory not under our administrative control.”