Ukraine Live Day 425: Putin Says He’ll Consider Recognizing ‘Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics’

April 18, 2015
Photo: TASS, Mikhail Metzel

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Putin Will Consider Recognizing Donbass ‘Republics’ In the Future

Today’s big headline comes from Interfax, which quotes Putin as saying that he’ll consider recognizing the so-called and self-proclaimed ‘People’s Republics’ of Donetsk and Lugansk. RFE/RL summarizes:

Interfax quotes Russian President Vladimir Putin as saying that he won’t rule out his administration’s recognition of the pro-Russian, breakaway Ukrainian regimes in Luhansk and Donetsk. He reportedly made the comments during the Vestia On Saturday program and added, after saying, according to Interfax, “I wouldn’t like to talk about this now because, whatever I say, everything might be counterproductive,” but that, “We’ll see what circumstances arise.” 

Though Putin was not clear on what he means by “recognize”, this is a direct violation of both the letter and the spirit of both Minsk agreements, which are plans to achieve a permanent ceasefire in an attempt to reconcile the separatist provinces with the Ukrainian government and establish them as semi-autonomous regions — not separate countries, and certainly not as annexed regions of Russia.

It’s also not clear what “circumstances” Putin is referring to, but if the ceasefire remains broken (it almost certainly will) then recent history shows us clearly that we should expect Putin’s language to shift from making reconciliation a goal and towards outright independence, or even Russian annexation, of the Donbass.

Meanwhile, Putin has also softened his stance toward the Obama administration in a TV interview. Reuters reports:

In his comments to the state-run Rossiya channel, Putin appeared to soften his anti-American rhetoric after being highly critical. Relations between Moscow and Washington and other Western powers have soured over the conflict in Russia’s neighbor Ukraine, sinking to an all-time low.

“We have disagreements on several issues on the international agenda. But at the same time there is something that unites us, that forces us to work together,” Putin said.

“I mean general efforts directed at making the world economy more democratic, measured and balanced, so that the world order is more democratic. We have a common agenda.”‘

The takeaway — that Russia, despite its aggressive moves, is still able to get its way in the international community on certain key issues.

James Miller