Kremlin lawmakers want Donbass Independence Recognition
The speaker of the Russian State Duma is calling for parliamentary consultations over the question of the status of the Donbass region of Ukraine. In a move the West would without doubt see as a huge political provocation, there’s a push among pro-Kremlin lawmakers to formally recognize the independence of the war-torn, Russian speaking region from Ukraine.
Further, such an action would likely trigger the biggest flare-up in fighting since 2014 and 2015. Reuters reports additionally that “Russian-backed separatists in east Ukraine would expect Russia’s army to fight with them against Ukrainian government forces if Moscow follows through on a parliamentary proposal to recognize their independence, a pro-Kremlin lawmaker said on Thursday.”
Should parliament move forward with such a proposal, it would be subject of Vladimir Putin’s approval, and for now might remain among “options on the table” for dealing with the crisis.
Alexander Borodai, a Russian law-maker who is among about a dozen now proposing the move to recognize independence, has acknowledged bluntly that war would surely follow:
Borodai, a former Donetsk political leader who is now a member of the Russian parliament, said the separatists would look to Russia to help them wrest control of parts of the territory they claim that are now held by Ukrainian forces.
“In the event of (the republics) being recognized, a war will become a direct necessity,” Borodai told Reuters.
“Russia would have to take on some security responsibilities” and defend the territories, he said, as it did after recognizing the independence of two breakaway Georgian regions after a 2008 war between Russia and Georgia.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov urged caution in light of these reports, but admitted it’s under serious consideration. The discussions could also be aimed at building further leverage amid talks with Washington and NATO. After all, the Biden administration on Thursday approved US weapons deliveries to Ukraine via Baltic allies Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia.
Thus the Kremlin appears to be signaling that if the West wants to escalate, it has a ‘nuclear option’ guaranteeing immediate escalation too. Likely Russia will hold off on any kind of independence recognition for now, given that on Friday US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Russian Foreign Ministry Sergey Lavrov in Geneva, where both agreed to continue open dialogue toward de-escalation.
Russian media accounts of the Friday meeting presented the engagement in a generally positive light, as both sides set out on “a clear path to understanding.” For now it seems the Kremlin got what it wants – namely for the Biden administration to take its demands concerning NATO expansion seriously.
“Our American colleagues once again tried to put the problems on the Russian-Ukrainian border at the forefront, tried to condition everything else on the need for so-called de-escalation,” Lavrov said immediately following his meeting with Blinken. “But we ended with an agreement that we will be provided with written answers to all our proposals next week”.
Fri, 01/21/2022 – 18:00