Staunton, April 11 – Moscow can’t afford having the Donbass become a frozen conflict with an unrecognized state like Transnistria or Nagorno-Karabakh: its economy cannot exist independently and its population is far beyond the capacity of the Russian state to subsidize for very long, according to Pavel Felgengauer.
The implications of the Moscow military analyst’s argument are that Moscow must seize more territory, force Kyiv or someone else to subsidize a population that the Russian government might try to keep under its control, or withdraw.
But Felgengauer himself explicitly says that because Moscow cannot afford to finance a frozen conflict in the Donbass, no one should count on that happening or on Moscow’s fulfillment of the Minsk accords. Instead, he says, it is “almost inevitable” that Moscow will “restart military operations.”
“If you believe Forbes, not long ago, it was proposed to Putin that he take the Donbass, but the Russian president said that he didn’t need it,” the analyst says, adding that he “believes that Putin really doesn’t need the Donbass in any form.”
“Half of the Donbass would not be able to exist independently,” Felgengauer continues. Its economy is in ruins, its agricultural base is too small, its infrastructure is incapable of allowing that to happen, and its population, more than ten times that of Karabakh or Transnistria, is too large for Moscow to finance.