Friday 24 March 2023

I blame the Kremlin for all the lives lost in the fighting in Donetsk since 2014

David Patrikarakos in UnHerd:

'I first arrived in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk in April 2014, after local “separatists”, backed and coordinated by Russia, had seized the municipal building. Thugs in masks and baseball bats were hanging pro-Russia banners over the balcony and skulking in the central square. There were roughly 1,000 of them in this city of one million: strange for a place that I was repeatedly told was so pro-Russian.

'From there I moved onto Luhansk. I was inside its municipal building when a different gallery of thugs — this time armed with automatic weapons — announced the establishment of the separatist “People’s Republic of Luhansk”. Later, in the city of Sloviansk, where “protestors” seized the police station, I saw for the first time what I was certain were Russian troops: masked and without insignia. This was, I realised, now a front line. Ukraine no longer simply faced protests in the East; it was at war with Russia.'

The full, simplistic and rather annoying article is here

Paul Kenyon, who was there at the time, told me that 90 percent of the inhabitants of what became the Donbass 'republics' were indifferent to the revolution in Kiev but pro-Russians appeared with guns and scared them.

A senior British diplomat who knows the situation well told me the local people 'just want to be left alone'.

Russian monarchist and nationalist Igor Girkin claimed that he managed to create the 'republics' despite indifference from the inhabitants and the Kremlin. “I was to a large extent an independent figure,” he said.

Afterwards the Kremlin got involved. In effect the two 'republics' were Russian puppets. The local people who wanted to join Russia and everyone else found themselves between two stools.

The idea that the 'republics' were the outcome of spontaneous popular uprisings is false. Donetsk is Ukrainian territory by law and it seems reasonable to me to blame the Kremlin for the lives lost in the fighting there since 2014.

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