Saturday, June 7, 2014

From Luhansk To Lugansk To Novorossiya

Today Petro Poroshenko was sworn in as the new president of Ukraine.  He is promising to retake military control of the two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine, now calling themselves the Donetsk Peoples' Republic and the Lugansk ("Luhansk" in Ukrainian as the western media still calls it, but not as it is called within it) Peoples' Republic.  There will probably be a renewed effort by him to make the military effort, but there is good reason to expect that it will fail.

The fatal weakness of the Ukrainian military in the region is that it may have suffered a fatal blow in the last two days, the loss of the main border post between Russia and Luhansk/Lugansk, which will now allow an uninterrupted flow of men and material into the breakaway republics.  It is now known that major leaders of those self-proclaimed rebel regimes are in fact Russian nationals, some claiming to be "volunteers" to prevent any linking with Putin, and he has withdrawn most of his troops from the border, so nobody can accuse him of directly invading.  This is very much an imitation of what he did in Crimea, and with the border post now in control of his people, it will be like in Crimea where the Russian military could easily supply and support from its bases the unofficial Russian military who gained control.

So, the next question will be whether or not these two self-proclaimed republics will  remain two or eventually unite into one, presumably dominated by more populous Donetsk, which would probably call itself "Novorossiya" or "New Russia," as various propagandists are calling for, in honor of what all of southern Ukraine extending as far west as Odessa was called in the late1700s when Catherine the Great gained control of that  area  from the Ottoman Turks.  This is the likely outcome, hence, from Luhansk to  Lugansk to  Novorossiya.

If that is the case, expect them unlike Crimea not to be annexed by Russia, but to join Transdniestria, South Ossetia, Nagorno-Karabakh, and Abkhazia as self-ruling de facto independent states supported by Russia, while unrecognized by pretty much all, or nearly all, the world.  I would note that this is not necessarily a bad outcome for them as these states have generally performed about as well economically as their neighbors, and it really is the case that the main export from the area is steel and coal to Russia.

Even though the current rebel leaders are self-appointed, supposedly there will be elections in September.  We shall see.  As it was, people were not allowed to vote in the Ukrainian presidential election in either of them.

Barkley Rosser

2 comments: said...

I note as an addition that Poroshenko in his inaugural address declared a ceasefire, at least for all those "without blood on their hands." But, apparently there continues to be fighting, adding to the numbers of those with "blood on their hands."

Also, supposedly, Putin is cracking down on the flow of people and arms across the border, apparently a result of the discussions in Normandy with Poroshenko and Obama. We shall see on that one. He could still have plenty of leverage with a relatively low flow.

bakho said...

Any thing but a negotiated settlement would be bad for the people living in the area. It was a mistake to turn to violence and intimidation to overthrow the elected government. I don't know why the neocons and other wealthy special interests behind the overthrow are so surprised that the East has responded with violence and intimidation of their own.

Even worse, the new government invited the right wing nationalists who have no place in trying to govern a multiethnic country. The right wing nationalist parties should have been denounced if not banned. Instead they are welcomed. The overthrow would not have happened without hte right wing nationalists.

These right wingers are a real, scary threat to the Ethnic Russians in the East. Ethnic Russians are not incorrect that they need protection from the right wingers. The new government that welcomes these right wing nationalists may not be up to the task of protecting minority rights in the East and elsewhere. Why is any one surprised that they are turning to Russia for help? The Ukraine people will suffer from outside instigators: the neocons versus the Russian mafia. There are plenty of examples where neocons have harmed countries and people in the name of short term profits.

Joining the the EU might be ok for the west, but would be very bad for the economic interests in the East. Eastern Ukraine exports a lot to Russia. If Ukraine joins the the EU and is flooded with cheap imports, expect the Russians to throw up high tariffs which will shut down Ukrainian exports.

Ukraine is another situation where interference by the neocons (Afghanistan 1980s, Iraq 2000s) is creating unnecessary strife.