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Civilian showing to OSCE monitors impact on her house by shelling in the Trudivske area of Donetsk City, July 20, 2017. Photo: OSCE / Mariia Aleksevych Shelling by Kiev in Donetsk (photo supplied by OSCE)

Top Russian diplomat mulls new position on Donbass

On December 26th, Russia’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Grigory Karasin, gave an extensive interview to the top Russian news source RIA Novosti on the evolving situation in Donbass.

Published: December 29, 2017, 11:04 am

    Karasin’s responses alluded to some possible changes in Moscow’s position.

    The possibility of Russia recognizing the DPR and LPR and and the consequences of the US and Canada’s “defensive weapons” supplies to the Ukrainian regime were the main topics discussed.

    Karasin said, with regards to the DPR and LPR: “According to the Minsk Agreements, Donbass should be granted a special status within Ukraine. In reality, we are seeing the opposite process. Instead of reintegrating the region into a common political and economic space, the Ukrainian leadership itself is actually pushing the South-East out of the country.”

    But Russia is facing some difficulties because other signatories have failed to implement the Minsk Accords. On the issue, Deputy Foreign Minister Karasin pointed out: “As for the future fate of the Donetsk and Lugansk republics, it should be first and foremost the choice of the people living there). It is these people who should decide on forms of state, political, economic, and social coexistence with their neighbours that are acceptable and comfortable for them.”

    Karasin called the regions “republics” as opposed to “particular districts of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions” which is customary in official Ukrainian documents.

    The “choice” of the people inhabiting the “Donetsk and Lugansk republics” could well be demonstrated by a special, new referendum to be organised on the territories of the DPR and LPR with the participation of international observers.

    Russia has categorically rejected a second referendum in Crimea and Sevastopol, so it might be assumed that a new referendum in Donbass would not be an automatic repetition of the first one, but rather address issues of the coexistence of the DPR and LPR within Ukraine, outside the framework of current Ukrainian statehood.

    Karasin’s comments may signal a possible change in Russia’s stance in regards to the legal status of the DPR and LPR.

    The Russian diplomat may have been hinting at a possible change in Moscow’s position on the question of recognising the DPR and LPR, an open invitation to Kiev and its Western patrons to finally embark on implementing the Minsk Agreements, or else…

    Karasin was asked directly what possible steps Russia could take in response to Canada and the US arming Kiev.

    He responded frankly: “The Washington hawks are trying to…raise the price of conflict in Donbass for Russia.” He added: “In deciding to send Kiev such weapons, the US and Canada are opening a Pandora’s box and essentially involving themselves in the internal Ukrainian conflict, once again igniting and internationalizing it. Few people think about the consequences of such a step.”

     

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