Ukraine rebels an­nounces plan to cre­ate new ‘state’

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Rus­sian-backed rebels fight­ing against Kiev an­nounced yes­ter­day a plan to cre­ate a new “state” they said would take the place of Ukraine and have its cap­i­tal in their ter­ri­tory. Ukraine’s proWestern au­thor­i­ties im­me­di­ately ridiculed the idea as a Krem­lin project that they would never al­low to get off the ground. The sep­a­ratists said the pro­posed coun­try would be founded af­ter a ref­er­en­dum and called Malorossiya, a tsarist-era name mean­ing “Lit­tle Russia” that once de­scribed most of the area cov­er­ing mod­ern-day Ukraine.

A con­sti­tu­tion pre­sented by rebel leader Alexan­der Zakharchenko said his self­de­clared Donetsk Peo­ple’s Repub­lic, neigh­bour­ing rebel-held Lu­gansk and other re­gions had agreed to “de­clare the es­tab­lish­ment of a new state, which is the suc­ces­sor of Ukraine.” The doc­u­ment-re­leased by the sep­a­ratists’ news agency-said rebel bas­tion Donetsk would become the cap­i­tal, while Kiev would be re­duced to the sta­tus of a “his­tor­i­cal and cul­tural cen­tre”.

Ukraine’s For­eign Min­is­ter Pavlo Klimkin quickly de­rided the plan on Twit­ter as an­other “show” by the in­sur­gents’“Krem­lin pup­pet masters”. “We and our part­ners will not let this hap­pen,” he vowed. The pro­posal seems to stand no chance of gain­ing trac­tion and even the in­sur­gents ap­peared un­able to agree on it. The press ser­vice for Lu­gansk rebel chief Igor Plot­nit­sky said he had not been con­sulted on the project.

A ‘vi­o­la­tion’

The sur­prise an­nounce­ment of Malorossiya could, how­ever, fur­ther dent an al­ready stalled peace process that has failed to end more than three years of figth­ing that has claimed the lives of some 10,000 peo­ple. A deal bro­kered by the lead­ers of Ukraine, Russia, France and Ger­many in Mink in 2015 has hit a wall but is still viewed by those in­volved as the only way of un­wind­ing Ukraine’s war.

France’s for­eign min­istry called on Moscow “to de­nounce” the rebel an­nounce­ment, which it de­scribed as a “vi­o­la­tion” of the peace deal. “Russia has to in­ten­sify its ef­forts to put an end to this con­flict,” a state­ment said. The pro­posal by the rebels echoed lan­guage used by the Krem­lin in the early days of the con­flict that pro­moted fears Russia was look­ing to an­nex swathes of main­land Ukraine af­ter its seizure of the Crimea penin­sula. Moscow used the tsarist-era name “Novorossiya” (New Russia) to re­fer to the ar­eas the rebels had seized, but the term was later dropped. Ukraine and the West in­sist that Moscow has fun­neled troops and arms across the border to fan the flames of the war in Europe’s back­yard. Moscow has de­nied the al­le­ga­tions de­spite over­whelm­ing ev­i­dence that it has been in­volved in the fight­ing and its ex­plicit po­lit­i­cal sup­port for the rebels. — AFP

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