On February 21st Russia unilaterally decided to recognise the independence of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and the Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) and launched a “peacekeeping operation” under the guise of guaranteeing the security of the two breakaway republics. The announcement in effect put an end to the Minsk II peace process. The recognition of the DPR and LPR will be seen by Ukrainians as an attack on their sovereignty, and risks undermining political stability.
Why does it matter?
With the Minsk process going nowhere and Ukraine resisting granting autonomous status to the breakaway republics, Russia has chosen another way to secure a bridgehead in Ukraine. Its aim is to put an end to the latter’s hopes of joining NATO, which Russia considers a threat to its national security. So far, the response of the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskyi, seems to have been calibrated to avoid the potential for spiralling violence similar to that in 2014 15. On February 22nd Mr Zelenskyi emphasised the need to continue dialogue through the Normandy format (involving Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany) and urged people to remain calm.
Nevertheless, the presence of official Russian troops in eastern Ukraine could become a catalyst for further political and social polarisation. Since the annexation of Crimea and the start of the conflict in the Donbas in 2014, Ukraine has developed a growing sense of nationalism, with ordinary citizens demonstrating agains against Russia’s interference in its domestic affairs. In areas that are divided between ethnic Ukrainians and Russians, such as the cities of Odessa and Kharkiv, there may be a heightened risk of violence between ultranationalist segments of Ukrainian society and pro-Russian activists. This in turn could provide Russia with a pretext for a full-scale invasion.
Recent developments may fuel anti-government sentiment and undermine the position of Mr Zelenskyi, whose approval ratings were already falling before the latest crisis unfolded. His pledge to bring peace in Ukraine was seen as one of the key promises of his presidential campaign in 2019. His failure to prevent Russia’s aggression may embolden his opponents, including the former president, Petro Poroshenko, who will try to build support around criticism of the government’s handling of the crisis.
2014: The West leaning billionaire and the former leader of Ukraine after the state department backed overthrow. You know Nuland’s cookies?
The government’s failure to deter Russia’s aggression, coupled with stalled reforms, continued economic challenges and an inability to tackle corruption, will pose major challenges to Mr Zelenskyi’s governance. His failure to prevent Russia’s incursion into eastern Ukraine is likely to fuel domestic dissent and heighten the risk of political instability in the short and medium term. Any concessions to Russia by Mr Zelenskyi would be seen as a sign of weakness and would increase the likelihood that he would not finish his tenure.
MOSCOW, February 25. /TASS/. The presidents of Russia and France, Vladimir Putin and Emmanuel Macron, held a phone conversation on Thursday to exchange opinions about the events in Ukraine, the Kremlin press service said.
“During the phone conversation of Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron, organized on the French side’s initiative, a serious and candid exchange of opinions about the situation around Ukraine took place,” the press service said in a statement.
When clarifying the developments unfolding, the Russian Defense Ministry reassured that Russian troops are not targeting Ukrainian cities, but are limited to surgically striking and incapacitating Ukrainian military infrastructure. There are no threats whatsoever to the civilian population.
Hubby has been following this situation much more then I have..from what we can see (when putting our heads/minds together) “surgically striking and incapacitating Ukrainian military infrastructure“ Looks to be what is occurring.