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Novorussian flags, OSCE monitors in Donbass

Is Ukraine breaking up?

The political landscape of the Ukraine is set to change dramatically, says a blogger The Saker. Last week, following the imposition of a total blockade against Novorussia by Kiev, Russia declared that documents emitted by the DNR and LNR authorities will be recognised as official.

Published: March 7, 2017, 8:24 am

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    Novorussian authorities also nationalised key factories of the Donbass, declaring the Russian Ruble as legal tender in Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics, adding that the factories in Novorussia will no longer pay taxes to Kiev.

    In response the Ukrainian Prime Minister has declared that he thinks that the irregular forces currently enforcing the blockade should be considered “border guards”, completely closing down the unofficial border with Novorussia.

    In late January, Kiev sympathisers blocked freight railway communication with the territory of the Donbass that remained out of Kiev’s control. In early March, Ukrainian radicals proceeded to “the next stage of economic blockade” of Donbass and blocked automobile roads to the region. The radicals blocked four highways that lead to Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

    The moves suggest that the DNR and LNR are cutting ties with the Ukraine and the the junta in Kiev and vice versa.

    The British Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, who was in Kiev recently, focused exclusively on the upcoming Eurovision competition, and not on the dramatic developments taking place in the southeast. Johnson is set to visit Moscow in coming weeks, the Foreign Office announced.

    His meetings will focus on the relationship between the UK and Russia, as well as issues involving Syria and Ukraine “where we continue to have significant differences”, it said. He called his meeting with Russia a “dual track approach” and insisted that he was not cosying up to the Russians.

    Johnson said on Monday as he arrived for an EU foreign and defence ministers meeting in Brussels, no one in Europe or the United States wanted to see a return to Cold War days. Repeated efforts to enforce a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine between government forces and Donbass have failed.

    EU efforts to forge closer ties with the Balkan states meanwhile have stalled, with Brussels seen as failing to deliver on promises of membership and economic progress.

    The aim instead must be to “try to engage with the Russians, to try to understand where they are coming from… to get them back on to a better path,” Johnson told AFP.

    The UK and Poland are also two of the largest contributors to the OSCE’s Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, which monitors the ceasefire and withdrawal of heavy weapons in eastern Ukraine.

    The Ukraine is approaching the status of a failed state, politically and economically, one which appears to be giving up on holding the country together. Other regions could follow suit, especially the southern regions of Odessa, Nikolaev and Mariupol, The Saker argues.

    Alexander Zakharchenko, the current head of state and Prime Minister of the self-proclaimed state, which declared independence from Ukraine on 11 May 2014, predicted last week that the Ukrainian state would collapse within 60 days.

    The DPR Head commented on the railway blockade conducted by Ukrainian radicals when visiting one of DPR’s coalmines. Zakharchenko stressed that such a situation caused much more economic losses to the Ukrainian party than to the new Republics.

    “We have power plants that will accept this coal gladly. We’ll get electric power and provide our homes with it. Our homes will be full of light, warm and comfortable,” he said, having added that common Ukrainians have felt consequences of this blockade already, as “in their homes it was cold, dirty and far from light.”

    The de-facto separation of the Donbass and its gradual integration into the Russian economy, marks a new phase in what seems to be the disintegration process of the Ukraine, after Zakharchenko announced a total blockade of the Ukraine by the Donbass, depriving Kiev of Novorussian taxes.

    Despite calls by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe to abide by the 2015 Minsk Agreements, a move which would “immediately improve the well-being of civilians and the humanitarian situation in Donbass overall,” Ukrainian forces continue to use heavy weapons against military and non-military targets alike in Donetsk and Luhansk.

    The European Union has removed the assets of Yury Ivanyushchenko, an ally of ousted former Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych, from its sanctions list, according to media reports and activists.

    Meanwhile European Union ambassadors have confirmed a surprising agreement on visa liberalisation for Ukraine, allowing citizens to travel freely to the EU and vice versa. Typically, visa-free agreements are not extended to countries engaged in conflicts, internal or otherwise.

    An agreement was reached between the European Council and Parliament in a single meeting. Ukrainian citizens will be able to travel to the EU without a visa for a period of up to 90 days. The deal is similar to Georgia’s visa-free agreement with the EU, adopted on February 27.

    Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Twitter said the decision on visa-free travel was “long-awaited in Ukraine”.

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