March 13, 2017 - Fort Russ -
By Eduard Popov - translated by J. Arnoldski -
The head of the Donetsk People’s Republic, Alexander Zakharchenko, has signed a decree giving the contact line in Donbass the status of a state border. According to the document, crossing the border is permitted only though border control posts with compulsory registration.
This decree was signed amidst an intensification of Ukrainian saboteur-terrorist activity. Last week in the Lugansk People’s Republic, a Ukrainian terrorist grouping headed by Major Sergey Ivanchuk was arrested, after which a video circulated across the Internet of Ivanchuk’s interrogation in which he speaks of an extensive Ukrainian subversive-reconnaissance and terrorist network not only in the Donbass republics, but in certain regions of Russia as well.
Many experts, including myself, have long been warning of the Donbass republics’ leaky security system. The order on establishing a border has been necessary for a long time. In reality, there is free movement of a huge number of people and goods on the de facto border between the DPR and Ukraine in both directions. In this situation, what kind of security can there be?
The main goal of Zakharchenko’s decree is increasing security within the DPR and improving the controllability of the movement of people and goods across the border. I would also posit that Zakharchenko’s decree will be supported in the LPR, as the republics have been working quite in sync over the past few weeks and months.
However, Donbass’ landscape is steppe and forest steppe with numerous gullies and ravines. It is an open space and a vast territory. Therefore, the possibility of creating a full border during wartime simply does not exist. The residents of large cities tried even before to cross the "border" through official checkpoints so as not to run into any trouble. Smugglers and the underground, like before, will also be free to cross the border.
I do not think that this measure will affect Kiev’s rhetoric in any way. Kiev will repeat a few cliched declarations about violations of the Minsk process by the “terrorist DPR”, but this will be merely a continuation of their campaign to discredit the introduction of external management in the DPR and LPR. The same is being picked up in the West. But there will most likely not be any big noise, since Western countries are tired of the creeping war in Donbass.
Of course, this step will not lead to any freezing of the DPR’s borders. The ceasefire will last or be terminated regardless of decrees on a state border. I personally do not see any contradiction in Zakharchenko’s words on a state border and his pledges to the DPR territories under Ukrainian occupation. the state border decree is a tactical stop on the way to liberating the occupied territories. The document merely emphasizes that a foreign and hostile state is on the other side of the border which is temporarily holding part of our territory, which will sooner or later, and probably sooner, be liberated.
The decree draws a line not through the territory of Donbass, but between Donbass and Ukraine. And soon the border with Ukraine will shift with the liberation of the territories of Novorossiya and, maybe, Malorossiya.
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