Do nothing and wait? Or creeping annexation? Russian options in Ukraine.

“Do nothing.” That the advice of former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev regarding Russia’s relations with Ukraine. In a piece published today by RT (here) I discuss an article by Medvedev in the newspaper Kommersant. In this, the author attacks the leadership of Ukraine in quite uncompromising language, saying that they have betrayed their own identity and are acting like “representatives of the Jewish intelligentsia in Nazi Germany being asked to serve in the SS.” Subtle, Medvedev certainly isn’t!

Medvedev concludes that Ukraine’s leadership is utterly incapable of reaching agreement with Russia or the rebels of Donbass. Consequently, he says, there is absolutely no point in talking to them. Instead Russia should wait until a more congenial leadership comes along. “Russia can wait. We are patient people.” Until then, his advice is that Russia sit back and do precisely “nothing.”

In my article, I argue doing nothing isn’t a solution for Russia. For the odds that a more friendly Ukrainian government will emerge at any point in the foreseeable future are very, very low. The Maidan revolution and subsequent events have had a drastic impact on the Ukrainian governing elite, so that anybody who comes to power there will be necessarily restrained and pushed into pursuing an anti-Russian policy, even if he or she originally does not intend to. Waiting won’t achieve anything for Russia.

If Russia wants to move events in Ukraine in a favourable direction, it needs to take a more active line. But that begs the question of what that line could be. And that’s a difficult question to answer, for the options are limited and not very good.

Moscow’s preferred outcome has always been the reintegration of the rebel Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR & LPR) back into Ukraine by the granting to them of some form of extensive local autonomy. This is what the Minsk 2 Agreement of February 2015 envisages. Kiev, however, is dead set against this, and that seems most unlikely to change.

Russia’s problem is that it lacks the means to change Kiev’s incentives to prompt it to alter its position regarding autonomy for Donbass. It also has next to no influence on domestic Ukrainian politics, and any attempt to exert such influence is likely to backfire. As it is, Viktor Medvedchuk, one of the leaders of the main opposition party, Opposition Platform – for Life, is under house arrest facing charges of treason. There is almost no conduit through which Russia could exert influence on Ukraine.

Military force is one possible solution, but we must hope that it would be considered very much a last resort. Not only would it comes with a great human cost, but it would shatter Russia’s relations with the West for a very long time. I see no enthusiasm for it, and one imagines that it could only be deployed in response to Ukraine starting major military operations against the DPR and LPR.

So what’s left?

As far as I can see, recognizing that Ukraine will not strike an acceptable deal over Donbass (i.e. one that gives the region extensive autonomy) requires admitting that the DPR and LPR are here to stay for the indefinite future. So what next?

The primary issue has to be how to improve the lives of the people living there, lest the rebel republics become the sources of serious instability, organized crime, and so on. That means first of all trying to get a proper ceasefire. Again, though, that runs into the problem that the Ukrainian side seems quite happy with the current situation of “neither war nor peace” in which military operations continue at a very low tempo. The only way I can see that changing is through pressure from Ukraine’s Western allies, but that appears very unlikely.

Beyond that, one logical step would be to annex the DPR and LPR. Certainly, from the point of view of restoring economic life to Donbass, this would be the best option. Continued existence in the limbo of unrecognized status is utterly unconducive to investment or to any sort of economic progress.

Again, however, this runs into the problem of the likely Western reaction, which one can imagine would be extremely hostile and result in severe sanctions being levied against the Russian Federation. While some Russians might say “So what?”, the fact is that it’s worth Russia’s while to maintain as good relations with the West as possible. For instance, Russia has to date being able to sustain trade with Germany, as seen in the recent completion of the North Stream 2 pipeline. It’s not worth rupturing this for the sake of Donbass. The economic interests of Russia’s own citizens come first.

All this leaves, therefore, is some sort of creeping annexation, whereby the process of integration between Russia and the rebel republics moves ever forward. This, though, has the effect of separating those republics ever further from Ukraine and making the achievement of the goal of their eventual reintegration into Ukraine ever more unlikely.

In essence, pursuing this option means abandoning in practice what has to date, at least in public, been the preferred objective. It is, however, probably the only practical option open to Russia at this moment in time.

Perhaps there are some other possibilities for the Russian government out there, and if so I’d be glad to hear what they are. But for now, it seems to me that its options are limited and the path laid out above seems the most likely for the immediate future. So, if I’m right, expect Moscow to publicly retain a commitment to the Minsk agreement, but in private accept that they are a dead letter and continue on the slow process of creeping annexation.

47 thoughts on “Do nothing and wait? Or creeping annexation? Russian options in Ukraine.”

  1. I believe this line of thinking might be extended to Poland and the Baltic stubs. Why bother engaging with them. Just as well to reduce to the minimum Russia’s dependency or material, business connections. Find others to sell to and to buy from.

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    1. A major difference being that Kiev regime controlled Ukraine has more pro-Russian elements than the Baltics and Poland. In addition, the interrelationship between Ukrainians and Russians is greater than Russians with Balts and Poles.

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    2. They’ve done pretty much precisely this. They’ve developed port infrastructure vicinity St. Petersburg, and the transit trade has gone from ~4% of Baltics’ GDP to a fraction of that.

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  2. I was listening to some Prilepin youtube video, and he said that he visited Ukraine, Kiev, many times before the 2014 ‘revolution’. He says everyone knew that Russia owns the elite, the whole place, everything from head to toes. And then one day, like a puff of smoke, it all disappeared. They flipped, switched to new patrons, without losing a beat. No loyalty, no integrity, no nothing. Not even a slightest hesitation before switching sides.

    The moral of this story is that there is no point analyzing any long-term tendencies there. There are no tendencies. It’s all fluid, it can flip again, any time, and just as suddenly.

    I have no idea how sensible this point of view is; it’s just something I heard. But it seems somewhat similar to the opinion expressed in Medvedev’s piece.

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    1. I think Mao’s got a point.

      The only thing that really matters here is relative prosperity. If Russia grows in wealth and power to equal Europe – and/or if European wealth and power shrinks, which just might happen, given how badly mismanaged it seems lately – a turnaround in Kiev will be quick.

      It’ll help if Donbass intergates economically with Russia and develops to become the envy of “Ukraine proper”. We could certainly start on this project now, first step being to ensure DNR/LNR security. Needless to say, it would also be a great testing ground for Russia’s military technology – and of exactly the sort that needs good testing.

      It might take a generation or two to finally settle it, but Medvedev is right, we are a patient people.

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      1. The RT columnist professor notes the pluses and minuses of Russia acting a certain way regarding Ukraine. Sometimes it’s arguably better to do nothing or do something with limits.

        Somewhat on par with the wait and see approach concerning cancer. The old school method is to do surgery right after chemoradiation. Why do so, if the chemoradiation (by all accounts) has eliminated the cancer? Surgery can likely lead to some quality of life issues.

        No definite that the cancer comes back after chemoradiation and without surgery.

        Crimea’s reunification with Russia and Russia’s current stance on the rebel held Donbass area are arguably enough for now.

        https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2021/07/18/getting-putin-intentions-wrong-again-on-russia-ukraine/

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    2. Western grip is *much* firmer though. Russia didn’t have Ukraine owe half its GDP worth of money to it. Russia didn’t have an entire floor in SBU building. Russia couldn’t fire prosecutor general by phone call from PM.

      Russia had influence in it. West owns it, “со всеми потрохами” as the saying goes.

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      1. Meh. The previous incarnation of Ukraine owed the RF $3.5 billion in Eurobonds, and then the current incarnation refused to pay it back. 7 years on, it’s still stuck in the courts, and will stay there for the foreseeable future. And the spooks, the phone calls, the muscle, I imagine the RF had all that too. And then, one day, it didn’t.

        So, Prilepin says it’s not cut in stone, it’s all fluid.

        There are people in Ukraine with billions of dollars of assets — Ukrainian assets. Transferring those assets to multinationals is a delicate game. You push too hard, you might get a pushback. Ask Bill Browder.

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    3. Not to be overlooked are the genuine pro-Russian leaning perspectives among those in Kiev regime controlled Ukraine.See:

      https://www.dw.com/en/oleksander-usyk-ukraines-controversial-heavyweight-boxing-champion/a-59398411

      This reminds me a bit of the bigoted divide and conquer approach the Nazis used as a means of encouraging division among the peoples of the Soviet Union – in the form of motivating an anti-Russian race war. Something that was behind the Cold War era Captive Nations Committee in the US.

      On the other hand, German mass media is more prone to prop PC Russians who agree with the Baltic and Kiev regime governments. Usyk is by no means a lone Ukrainian, who doesn’t march to the tune of the nationalist anti-Russians.

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    4. Whatever Prilepin said, is his personal opinion, many people disagree with him. One can certainly deduce that it’s Russia’s fault at what happened just by the fact that it borders the country, but everyone can assume whatever they want about what it actually means. Precisely, many people, including Prilepin himself IIRC, blame Putin for not acting strong enough, therefore assuming that Russia’s fault is actually in doing nothing and waiting – therefore he must be replaced with more patronizing figure that will indulge him in his fight.
      Western-leaning opinion is entirely opposite, of course, and assume that everything bad that happens is happening because of Russia (including all of their own failures that backfired at them).
      Both of those are deeply populist, self-centric and completely irrelevant to reality. Both of them assume the country has some value worth fighting for. Russian government, military and intelligence operates in entirely different world where there are checks in balances, risks and opportunities, investments and profit. Ukraine presents no checks, zero opportunity and negative profit – best economic programs imply that it shall reach absolute static position at the room temperature bottom line to start economy over, at which point it will be off barely better than Afghanistan.

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    5. The moral of the story is that everyone can be wrong.
      In 1991-2014, Ukr government was at best pragmatic, at worst anti-Russian. RusFed did not own them, and that is why in 2014 what happened happened.

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      1. Again, I have no idea how sensible this view it. You might be completely correct.

        However, if I wanted to defend it, I’d say something like the following:

        Governments are owned by big business. Ukrainian big business, if not exactly ‘owned’, was certainly tightly integrated with the Russian economy. Supply chains, import-export, and all that.

        I guess one interpretation of the story would be that the Yanukovych’s clan was perhaps a bit too heavy-handed, too unreasonable, and so it got toppled. With the help of various outside actors, the usual suspects. But now, perhaps, we’re getting close to another watershed moment, see the last para of my comment at 7:11 am.

        But perhaps it’s all wrong, I don’t know. The future will tell, as they say.

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  3. After arranging the Maidan coup, the US “owns” Ukraine, as in Colin Powell’s pottery shop rule—”break it and you own it.”

    Ukraine is not Russia’s problem or responsibility. It’s an economic basket case that is dependent on the largesse of West. Russia doesn’t want or need a basket case on its books.

    It’s now the problem of the US and Europe since it is a failing state in the midst of a civil war.

    Russia has already declared its red lines to the US, although what they are is not known publicly in terms of specifics. But is is fairly easy to surmise the general outline in terms of NATO’s forward motion toward Russia.

    The ball is in the US court, not Russia’s.

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    1. Yet, the EU and North America still blame Russia with some reservations, as evidenced by Germany approaching Russia on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project – a clear response to the way the Kiev regime has used energy as a political weapon.

      Russian press reported that Nuland agrees that Ukraine should grant more autonomy to the rebel held Donbass area – something that the Kiev regime opposes.

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      1. I take back what I said further down this thread. This Tweet is stated shortly after Nuland’s recent Moscow trip and about the same time the FBI raided property linked to Deripaska:

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    1. Hmm… Yalensis – I took this comment by Medvedev as a barbed reference to Zelenskys and Poroshenko and their oligarch backers origins and this alliance with Bandera /neo nazi supporters.

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      1. That’s the way I took it too, the so-called “Zhydo-Bandera” alliance that Kolomoisky joked about.
        The Godwin Law thing was a bit of a joke, though…

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    2. Yalensis, I have yet to stumble across a biography of someone even close to this description. It is simply impossible. ..
      “representatives of the Jewish intelligentsia in Nazi Germany being asked to serve in the SS,”

      I am quite familiar with a lot of curious Jewish German/Austrian biographies, via Theodor Lessing’s short portraits of Jewish self-hatred*, including at least one that wanted to join the Nazis. But,alas. Not the SS mind you. But I don’t think one needs that knowledge to realize the above statement is simply absurd.

      * more complex issue for sure. …

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    3. Never mind that Crimea is one of the most pro-Putin (if not most pro-Putin) part of Russia.

      The Kiev regime has a noticeable lack of popularity in Crimea and the rebel held Donbass area, in addition to having a pro-Russian contingent on the territory it controls.

      To offset this, the Kiev regime perpetuates censorship that’s depicted in Western mass media towards Russia. In turn, Western mass media has a way of distorting things. Related:

      https://twitter.com/MarkSleboda1?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor

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  4. Given the futility of most of the options reviewed, I’d say push the Minsk Agreements. It’s good politics and puts the pressure on Ukraine and its EU/US supporters. After all Minsk was an international agreement involving the EU.

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    1. The Minsk Agreements?

      Lavrov last week:

      “Actually, I was a little surprised that our Western colleagues were promoting the resumption of the Normandy format with such assertiveness, without the implementation of previous decisions on their part” — TASS, 14 October, 15:28: “Russia’s Lavrov surprised by persistent Western efforts to proceed with Normandy format”.

      Furthermore, the Russian foreign minister mentioned the EU-Ukraine summit in Kiev, which resulted in a joint statement signed, in particular, by President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and President of the European Council Charles Michel.

      In this statement, Russia “was directly named the aggressor”.

      “In such very rude, I would say, categorical terms, we are asked to fulfill the Minsk agreements since, as it was stated, we are a party to this document”, Lavrov went on to say.

      “This is far from and opposite to the truth and contradicts even those ambiguous statements made by the German and French experts”.

      As the Russian Foreign Minister noted, the German and French co-authors of the Minsk agreements earlier refrained from identifying the parties to the Donbass conflict in order to preserve “constructive uncertainty”.

      “Currently, instead of constructive uncertainty Ms von der Leyen and Mr. Michel, as well as Mr. [President of the Ukraine Vladimir] Zelensky, have directly named Russia a party to the conflict. We want to understand what is happening in the EU and how we can work further”, Lavrov said.

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      1. Thank you for the comment. Lavrov says: ““This is far from and opposite to the truth and contradicts even those ambiguous statements made by the German and French experts”. What is far from and opposite to the truth? That Russia, contrary to von der Leyen et al., is the aggressor. Russia is a party to the Minsk agreements. If further discussions are to happen, the premise can’t be what war mongers like von her Leyen claim, which is indeed “far from and opposite to the truth.” So Yes, the Minsk Agreements as a starting point. No guarantees. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

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      2. re Frank Munley’s question below: “Lavrov says: ‘This is far from and opposite to the truth and contradicts even those ambiguous statements made by the German and French experts’. What is far from and opposite to the truth?”

        From the site of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation.

        14 October 202115:09
        Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s statement and answers to media questions following a meeting of the CIS Council of Foreign Ministers, Minsk, October 14, 2021

        Question: The foreign ministers will soon meet in the Normandy format. Will they meet offline or online? What shall we expect? Is this meeting a prelude to a heads of state summit? If so, when might it take place?

        Sergey Lavrov: In his telephone conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel at their initiative, President of Russia Vladimir Putin discussed whether it would be beneficial to resume work in the Normandy format. Ultimately, our President emphasised that before holding a new summit, it is necessary to implement the decisions of the previous summit held in Paris in December 2019.

        President Putin cited convincing facts showing that Kiev had not fulfilled anything that it promised to do at the previous summit. The leaders agreed that their aides, advisors and foreign ministries would continue consultations to decide what to do next. I was a bit surprised that our Western colleagues are so persistent in promoting the resumption of the Normandy format without ensuring the implementation of the previous decisions.

        The EU-Ukraine summit took place a couple of days after that. Its participants adopted a joint statement that was signed, among others, by President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and President of the European Council Charles Michel. In this statement, Russia is bluntly called “an aggressor.” The signatories demand in a rude and categorical manner that we fulfill the Minsk agreements as one of their parties. This seriously contradicts the truth and even the ambiguous answers of German and French experts to a direct question: Who are the parties to the Minsk agreements? We are saying that under the agreements Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk should come to terms on the special status of Donbass, preparations for elections, amnesty and many other issues. We ask the German and French co-authors of the Minsk agreements whether they confirm the need for a direct dialogue. They suggest refraining from the mention of the sides. They consider it correct to leave “constructive uncertainty.” Now instead of “constructive uncertainty,” Ms von der Leyen, Mr Michel and Mr Zelensky bluntly call Russia “a party to the conflict.” We want to figure out what is going on in the EU and how we can continue working.

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    1. When USA start supporting Minsk, maybe it’s time to ditch Minsk.
      Actually, I was always wary about Minsk, one of the problems with it, is it hands the Ukraine-Russia border back to Ukrainian Nazis. If these Nazis control the border, they will choke the economic life out of DPR/LPR.

      So, better that Minsk should be dead, IMHO.

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      1. Agree 100% Yalensis. It’s a good thing, though, that there’s no need to ditch it openly so far. That would just create another big stink.

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      2. Actually, I was always wary about Minsk, one of the problems with it, is it hands the Ukraine-Russia border back to Ukrainian Nazis.

        Medvedev tell us Ukrainians aren’t collectively Nazis. Just that the present Ukrainian leader embraced the inner Nazi minority once he became president.

        Начал истово служить наиболее оголтелым националистическим силам Украины (которые, надо признаться, там всегда были, но составляли от силы 5–7% активного населения).

        You would beg to differ?

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      3. Yes, Lola, agree. I think Russia has to dissemble somewhat and pretend they still support Minsk, while knowing full well it is dead in the water.
        I like Seward’s idea (comment below), about a Russian protectorate.

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    2. When USA start supporting Minsk, maybe it’s time to ditch Minsk.

      That’s the curious part of a much larger equation for me, too. On a more private note, I didn’t notice any type of diminished American efforts concerning European/NATO expansionism under Trump, Quite the opposite. Although it seemed to be delegated to a large extent to the Vice.

      Dog vs tail questions? …

      What details should I focus my attention on concerning the last Trump hype in the Ukraine? That he stopped weapons deliveries? Only since he expected a personal advantage? Could there ever be an American Trumpist deplorable or otherwise “ill guided humanitarian (LGBTQ? snowflakes?)” majority in the US of A that would accept to stop military aid?

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  5. It is indeed a difficult dilemma for the Russians, which was and is precisely the whole purpose of the West’s “Ukrainian project” since its inception in the bequest made by the Gehlen organization of its Nazi-era Rolodex of Ukrainian nationalists, this as Nazi Germany’s part in the ongoing anti-Russian crusade after 1945. In this connection, you state in your article that “the takeover of Crimea and subsequent support for the rebel Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics in eastern Ukraine have cemented elite opinion in Ukraine firmly against Russia,” but this ignores the long-term effects of extensive post-war support for Ukrainian nationalism by the Western powers and the open sponsoring of operations on the ground (Nuland’s 5 billion dollars was the American contribution) which produce the regime change efforts in 2004 and 2014. The results for the Ukrainian people are by now well known. As for Ukraine’s economic elites (the owners, inter alia, of Ukraine’s major media that played a central role in both), whose extensive fortunes, parked in Western assets or offshore accounts, are vulnerable to seizure or “freezing” in view of the long arm of extra-territorial sanctions, a polite word of warning surely sufficed to induce them to sell their country to the highest bidder. So, the “cementing of elite opinion firmly against Russia” long predates the events of 2014.

    As to the creeping annexation option that is indeed in progress, the difficulty is that the Ukrainian armed forces continue to their daily shelling and sniper attacks against civilian districts and vital infrastructure. All ceasefire agreements have been violated by the Ukrainian side. None of this campaign has any real military utility; it is quite clearly conducted in order to terrorize the population. That the Western media turn a blind eye to such facts, which do not fit its Russophobic narratives, is par for the course: the Israeli-Palestinian situation long ago created the paradigm for this sort of non-reporting. Notwithstanding the usual claptrap about human rights that we hear so much about in the West.

    In the end, the internal pressures will build on the Russian leadership for a re-run of the 2008 (recognition of the two republics and “compulsion to peace”), if Zelenskii and his entourage provide the provocation. We were close to precisely such a situation in the spring of this year. As Western commentary that event and in connection with the current energy crisis in Europe shows, the collective West is sinking into ever increasing anti-Russian hysteria in any case: if the trend accelerates, “good relations with the West” will have less and less real value with time as a constraint.

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    1. I think Miller is broadly right. Ukraine will not comply with its Minsk commitments, nor will it attempt to invade Novorossiya in earnest -those being the best and worst options (in terms of likely results for Ukraine) – So, sooner or later, it’s the 2008 option, as the only one left.

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  6. Whenever the subject of Ukraine comes up- there is never any honest assessment of what is going on in Ukraine itself with its people

    What do the people think ?
    What do the people want ?

    I ask these questions because it’s not just a question of the elites in Ukraine as it is clear what their agenda is.

    However they have to have the agreement of the people whether it is active or just passive acceptance of the current political situation.

    Medvedev perhaps see this factor in his reasoning.

    The people of Ukraine accepted Poroshenko and his war on the Donbas and they accept the Zelensky laws on language, shutting down on media and arrest of politicians.

    They perhaps see it as a price worth paying to be part of the EU and become rich.?

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  7. People should note, that maestro Robinson is not a regional specialist in Ukraine, its internal politics and economy. As such, his bland, generic “strategisying” musings have rather low value even as (uninformed) opinion,

    E.g., neither his RT article nor these idle musings on his blog say anything, about Republics of Donbass STILL being the Ukraine’s key suppliers of coal. And that Medvedchuk is persecuted, in part, because of his role in organizing several trade deals which saw the Ukraine receiving coal from the Republics. Neither does he deem it worthy his readership attention, that what Medvedchuk did (this grand “зрада” of which he stands accused) had been done time and again by the former Ukrainian presiden Petro Poroshenko and THE oligarch Rinat Akhmetov, none of which will face t he justice, cuz – c’mon!

    Also, maestro Robinson flat out states:

    “he only way I can see that changing is through pressure from Ukraine’s Western allies, but that appears very unlikely.”

    I would like to know, which possibly classified docunents maestro Robinson had access to (he’s a “former” intellignecer in Her Majesty’s Service, after all) to base upon his conclusion of that. What other people see there from the “open source materials”, is the West’s growing disillusionment with Zelensky and the Ukraine. It is not given that Big Brothers and Sister will have his back indefinetely.

    Finally, neither RT article nor these idle musings discuss the potential to absolutely legal and legitimate application of the… “cryotherapy”… to the Ukraine. SAD!

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    1. Given Austin’s bellicose comments in Kiev and the raiding of Deripaska’s property in the US, it’s within reason to believe that Nuland’s Moscow visit didn’t go well.

      She went there to (for lack of a better term) feel things out.

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  8. A long-term “temporary” solution to the Donbas problem might be for Russia to declare a temporary protectorate of the Donbas republics until such time as the Ukraine agrees to implement the Minsk-II agreement, or until a new agreement satisfactory to both sides is reached (i.e, never). As part of the protectorate, Russia would declare its willingness to assist the Donbas republics with their self-defense, and to come to their aid if attacked: doing formally what it it is accused of doing informally. After a few border incursions were repelled with massive retaliation, perhaps destroying any Ukrainian weapons capable of further attacks, the Ukraine might get the idea and ease and desist. Russia could then de-facto peaceably incorporate the Donbas economically into the Federation with free trade, and politically by giving joint citizens permission to vote in Russian elections, perhaps with representatives ostensibly elected from the adjacent Rostov Oblast’.

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  9. Boris Mezhuev propose a model of “civilizational realism”: in his opinion, the Ukraine question cannot be fixed without considering the dual identity of Ukraines, especially in Crimea and South-East regions. I see no hope in Ukraine’s policies and solutions for now, as if it is an dead end, or worse, this country would finally slide to further disintegration.

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  10. I’m curious if anyone knows the answer to this: do the “citizens” of the Donbas (DPR + LPR) still pay taxes to the Ukrainian state? In turn, does the Ukrainian state supply any services to them, or do the various services (like banking etc.) that it had previously suspended remain suspended?

    Basically, I’m curious to understand to what extent, exactly, do the people living the DPR/LPR actually remain (de facto/de jure) “citizens” of the Ukraine.

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    1. That’s an excellent question, CZen. I wondered that myself, and I think they do. In my online research, I can’t seem to find the most recent infomation, but as of 2019-2020 DPR/LPR residents (and enterprises) were certainly paying taxes into Ukrainian budget.
      If somebody who is good at research can find better, or more up to date, info, that would be great.
      I see this piece from 2019, according to which, taxes from Donbass enterprises (“occupied territories” by Ukrainian standards) still pay enterprise taxes into Ukrainian budget.

      (Not sure about individual workers/households, or if they have a choice. Is there a payroll tax? Not sure.)

      I have read somewhere that DPR/LPR people are being screwed out of their pensions, both by Ukraine and also Russian Federation. According to this piece , even Donbass residents who are Russian citizens, are only considered second-class citizens. They don’t get Russian pensions, nor can they even apply for credit cards or ATM cards from Russian banks. Nor can they register their new-born children as RF citizens. Nor can they put Russian license plates on their cars. One thing they do get is an insurance card, though, the so-called green card.

      This would be an excellent topic for a research paper or blogpost.

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  11. I wonder how long the West’s anti-Russian policy is going to last. The U.S. is ruled by an unpopular, very corrupt, and dysfunctional establishment. So far that establishment has been able to thwart challengers– except for Trump, who didn’t exactly “drain the swamp”. However, unless the situation of average Americans improves a boiling point is probably going to be reached, hopefully leading to outsiders in the government, who could end the hostility to Russia.

    In this situation, the regime in Kiev will find itself isolated. What will be its base of support? Even a dictatorship needs a base of support.

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