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Donbas is the reason Ukraine can’t join NATO

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September 25th, 2015 – 

Алексей Верхоянцев for SVPressa – 

Translated for Fort Russ by Paul Siebert – 

“If Ukraine will start to prepare a
referendum on joining NATO or other procedures, DNR will immediately withdraw
from the Minsk agreements and proceed to cleaning up the entire territory of
Donbas occupied by the regime in Kiev”, – announced the head of the Donetsk
People’s Republic Alexander Zakharchenko.

“The statements of
Poroshenko and his representative at Minsk talks Kuchma about the necessity for
Ukraine to join NATO are aimed at disrupting the Minsk Agreement”, – said
Zakharchenko.

Zakharchenko also
expressed confidence that in this case other regions will leave Ukraine.

NATO’s  Secretary General Stoltenberg was visiting
Ukraine on September 21-22 at the invitation of President Petro Poroshenko.

Also in September
Poroshenko announced the signing of a joint declaration on strengthening the
military and technical cooperation between Ukraine and NATO. He said that today
Ukraine and NATO are closer than ever. However, he admitted that Ukraine is not
ready yet to become a member of NATO just like the North Atlantic Treaty
Organization is not ready to accept this country.

In any case, the
statement made by Zakharchenko was in sharp contrast to “peaceful
assurances” made until recently by DNR and LNR politicians.

Does this mean that
Donbas is ready to take a tough uncompromising stance on the fundamental
differences with Kiev?

– DNR and LNR are the
last lever of the Russian influence on the situation in Ukraine, – says a writer and political analyst of the Center for coordination of the ‘South-East’
movement Alex Anpilogov
. – Therefore, the statement of Zakharchenko should
be regarded primarily as a statement made in the interests of Russia.

It is clear that Ukraine’s
accession to NATO would radically change the geopolitical position of Russia.
NATO would have a huge advantage for combat operations with Russia. This is not
the Baltics, where it is possible to throw enemy units into the sea in a short
period of time.

Moreover, even in the
peaceful conditions Ukraine’s membership in NATO will cause a serious problem
for Russia in its interaction with its allies in the Middle East and other
parts of the world. It is noticeable already.

Therefore, the
preservation of the DNR and LNR is very important for Moscow as it helps keep
Kiev in suspended state.

However, one should
not underestimate the abilities of NATO. This organization is already using
Ukraine as a bridgehead. Take the joint exercises of the Ukrainian and NATO
military near Lvov. It is possible that in the foreseeable future a NATO base will
be created in this “independent” country.

– In other words, the Kremlin can be satisfied
with a situation when the Donbas republics having no certain political status,
prevent Ukraine from joining NATO? How long can such a situation last? We know
that in the Donbas republics there is a growing frustration because so far they
have been unable to become a part of Russia?

– With regard to NATO,
the preservation of the DNR and LNR definitely plays into the hands of Moscow.
Ukraine even before the overthrow of Yanukovych had undertaken considerable
efforts to solve all the existing issues related to territorial disputes regarding
the islands in the Sea of ​​Azov and the Black Seas. Now it cannot relinquish
the Crimea and the Donbas considering the radical public opinion on these
issues. This means that Ukraine will not join NATO without officially giving up
these territories.

However, viewed in the
broader geopolitical terms, Russia has lost Ukraine, at least, for a long time.

How long the suspended
state of the Donbas republics will last – I think that long enough. This is due
to the weakness of Ukraine in the first place.

Yes, the residents of
Donbas seem to be more and more frustrated. The vast majority of ordinary
people who voted on May 11, 2014 for the sovereignty of the republics were
hoping for a quick entry into Russia, as happened with the Crimea.

In addition, the
Donbas does not have a national factor as, for example, in South Ossetia, which
would not exist as part of Georgia. Donbas is populated mostly by Russians and
Ukrainians. Most of them have traditionally been focused on Russia. But as a
result of the current position some people of Donbas are of the opinion that it
would be better to be in Ukraine than the way it is now.

Nevertheless, most
likely, this situation with the “suspended” status of the DNR and LNR
will last quite a long time. And this, of course, will not have a positive
impact on both the political and economic life of the republics.

I think that it was a timely
statement made by Zakharchenko – says a political
scientist, representative of the DNR in the Rostov region, Eduard Popov
. –
Now Europe is in a difficult situation due to the influx of refugees from the
Middle East. It has no time for Ukraine. This situation should be used
politically by the Donbas republics to the full.

Kiev has repeatedly
threatened the DNR and LNR, that it does not recognize the elections if they
are held not by Ukrainian laws. Despite the fact that these laws deprive the
republics of any serious autonomy. The situation in the Donbas now is as it was
six months ago – the party that starts a large-scale fighting first will be
accused of disrupting the Minsk Agreement and of aggression. Therefore, Zakharchenko
made the right move warning Ukraine about the consequences of its steps to join
NATO.

– Are the Donbas republics really able to free
the territory within the administrative borders of Donetsk and Lugansk regions?

– Yes, they are.
Moreover, I think, if the offensive begins it will not stop at these borders.
In Donetsk, the issue has been repeatedly raised that the DNR considers itself
a successor of the Donetsk-Krivoy Rog republic that existed in 1918, which
included a large area in addition to Donbas.

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