I touched on this yesterday I touched on this yesterday when the news hit that Alexander Zakharchenko announced the formation of Malorussia (Little Russia) to unite all of the territory in Ukraine in opposition to the regime in Kiev.
At the same time, this declaration does take off the table further reunification with Russia; a move I’m sure Putin appreciates as it will make it easier for him to negotiate with the U.S. on a formal solution in the future.
Because now those talks have to take place without the fiction of Minsk II acting as an excuse for nothing to change.
By taking reunification off the table Zakharchenko guts the neocon narrative that Vladimir Putin is trying to take over the world like they’ve done with Crimea for the last three years. The other thing it does is signal to the other ethnic groups that no longer want to be ruled by Kiev that they will have a home to come to when (not if) the Poroshenko government falls into chaos.
Adam Garrie at The Duran makes this point as well, along with others.
It is the best solution because it ends the fantasy that Minsk II could ever be implemented by the signatories, which, to remind everyone, does NOT include Russia, but does include the Poroshenko government.
The same government that keeps sending troops to the contact line, bombing civilians and insisting that the Donbass will be retaken and brought under the thumb of Kiev’s rule.
Malorussia is a Win-Win
As Garrie points out, Malorussia is, in effect, the Minsk II solution without all of the baggage designed to preclude its implementation. It will preserve the territorial integrity of Ukraine, albeit in an altered form, allow for independent action from Russia and, most importantly, end the violence.
The problem is that violence is the goal of the architects of the Kiev putsch in the first place. The question now is whether or not the neocon cabal in D.C., figure-headed by John McCain, will be able to maintain the same level of institutional support from the EU, the IMF and the U.S. government to prolong this situation.
Our leadership is willing to spend any amount of our money and capital in pursuit of these Pyrrhic victories. And it looks like Zakharchenko, as leader of the Donetsk People’s Republic, understands this well enough to make an end-run around both Moscow and Washington.
His proposal, apparently, caught everyone off-guard. But, sometimes it is this kind of action that wakes everyone up from their torpor, focused on positioning themselves within known parameters, that they missed an obvious solution.
So focused was everyone on how to implement Minsk II, no one looked to see the better option staring them in the face.
And now, with Malorussia on the table, the big players will have to re-assess their strategies and stated goals.
The U.S. will never go for this as long as Trump is not in control of our foreign policy, which he isn’t. But, at the same time, McCain being incapacitated and retirements of senior members of the Senate on tap for 2018, the dynamic there is changing.
For Russian President Vladimir Putin, he is in the awkward position now of having reaffirmed support for the Minsk II solution as an olive branch to EU leadership that is being pushed by Donald Trump back towards Russia on major issues.
So, he cannot, in the short term recognize this proposal officially. It will take time.
The populous wants normalized relations with Russia and Merkel wants to keep sanctions in place as a lever arm in negotiations with Putin. But, again, Malorussia undercuts this geopolitical wrangling by cutting to the core of the problem, which is that the people of the Donbass, and historically considered Malorussia, no longer want to be governed by Kiev in any way.
They want their own country separate from Ukraine, which was an amalgam of disparate ethnic groups crushed together for, what a shock, political reasons. Breaking Ukraine up into smaller units is the right solution.
But, Putin knows that the EU will fight this obvious and elegant solution tooth and claw because it weakens their position with Russia, but, more importantly, stops dead the idea of NATO putting missiles on Russia’s western border. It also weakens their argument against other separatist movements in Europe.
I’m thinking here of Catalonia. But, also resolving the mess in Serbia.
Lastly, once Malorussia is established and functioning, it will provide a haven for other parts of Ukraine to join as chaos envelops Kiev again. If Trump withdraws support fully, then this will happen sooner rather than later. His initial meeting with Poroshenko earlier in the year suggest this is what’s next and U.S. support was mostly coming through McCain who is now very likely out of the picture.
For his part, I don’t think Putin wants Ukraine restored and would rather see this solution in place. Having a friendly state on its western border all the way from Belarus to Moldova would be a good thing for everyone.