Staunton, February 18 — Vladimir Mamontov, head of the Moscow Speaks radio station, says that the creation of a Transdniestria-like entity in eastern Ukraine “should not be considered a victory” for Russia, a statement that has at least three possible meanings, none of which should be ignored.
First of all, Mamontov’s words could be what they purport to be, an argument for going further and annexing the Donbas as Moscow has already annexed the Crimea. Second, they could represent a warning to Putin that he should not underestimate Russian support for doing just that and pull back in any way.
Or, third — and most intriguingly — Mamontov’s comment may be intended to provide Putin with exactly the kind of argument he needs at home and abroad to organize a Transdniestria–2 in Ukraine by suggesting to Russians that this is what is possible now and to Western leaders that such an arrangement would be a compromise rather than “a victory.”
Arranging something like a Transdniestria in eastern Ukraine is “one of the variants of the development of the situation,” he says, and “not a bad one in fact if it is peaceful.” But that isn’t the case at present because of Kyiv’s actions. And consequently, a Ukrainian Transdniestria could find itself subject to a blockade.
“If we get such a blockaded variant of Donetsk and Lugansk,” Mamontov says, “then it seems to [him] that this must not be considered a victory.” These regions could remain within “a federal Ukraine, of course, “but that Ukraine must be different” than the current one, “politically, economically and legally.”