The Peoples’ Republic of Donetsk is no longer needed by either Putin or Akhmetov.
By Vitaly Portnikov
Translated and edited by Voices of Ukraine
Yesterday the “Donetsk People’s Republic” was asking for support from Moscow and got itself an entry in Wikipedia as a new state which had suddenly appeared on the political map of Europe. It turns out that today, in accordance with numerous requests from the workers, it disbanded and refused to carry out any referendums on the territory of Donetsk oblast [region] before the proper legal basis had been created.
There is nothing to be surprised about: can you really proclaim a republic, even a people’s pro-Russian republic, in an area occupied by feudal barons? The Prince of Donbas, Rinat Akhmetov talked with the “Republicans” literally on air and promised to talk with the authorities about their demands. For the courageous defenders of the people’s republic this was enough for them to abandon their demands and stop bawling “Russia, Russia” on the streets of the Ukrainian city.
We do not know what happened before the live broadcast and we may never know. What did Yulia Timoshekno and Rinat Akhmetov talk about, if they did talk? What exactly did John Kerry say to Sergei Lavrov? What did the Russians say to Akhmetov if, of course, there was a conversation between them? Did the Americans call Akhmetov or did they entrust their message to the oligarch, to their Russian contacts? Judging by what has happened they found strong arguments, in Kyiv and Washington, for a temporary cool-down in Donetsk and Moscow. We will only be able to judge the original force of these arguments if the meeting promised by the US Secretary of State between the delegations of Ukraine, Russia and international mediators really goes ahead. But it now needs to be noted that Russia and its allies in Ukraine have started to behave more carefully.
The Republic of Saboteurs is no longer any use to Putin or Akhmetov. Or, not yet, at least. It is important to understand why the Russian leadership has abandoned the plan of further dividing Ukraine. Has Moscow understood that the consequences of further sabotage might be a big war and a definitive crash of the Russian economy? Or have they decided to wait and put forward their usual demands at the announced talks: federalization, not joining EU and NATO neutrality, otherwise Donetsk stands up, you yourselves saw how hard it was for Rinat to keep them back from independence?
Moscow will not for a minute stop stirring up the Ukrainian situation, otherwise they will have problems explaining to their television viewers where the heroes oppressed by the junta have gone, running round the streets of southeastern cities with portraits of Putin and Russian flags. And even if it becomes clear that Ukraine is too tough for the Kremlin to chew, they will keep trotting out subversives and their republics, so that Russians will not have any doubts in the jerry-rigged popular opposition process, and they won’t suspect that the Banderite Maidan in Kyiv, that stood up to the Kremlin stooges, was actually genuine, and the southeastern subversive putsch was just a cardboard cut-out.