Ukraine – Four Oblasts Join Russia

In 1922 Vladimir Il’ich Lenin, head of the revolutionary Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, decided that several regions which for centuries had been Russian and under Russian rule were to be put, for reasons unknown, under the administration of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Ukraine. In 1954 a similar decision was taken with regards to autonomous republic of Crimea.

The sudden disintegration of the Union in 1991 led to unruly phases in the newly created republics. Ethnic Russian people suddenly found themselves in territory that was no longer ruled by Moscow. In several of the new countries ethnic non-Russian majorities started to suppress the Russian minorities. Today’s Baltic countries, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, are to various degrees prime examples for this.

Before 1991 the Ukraine had never existed as a state or independent entity. The early Cossack tribes in the yellow part and green parts of the map had asked for Russian protection against attacks from Poland, Lithuania and other neighbors. In the new Ukraine ethnic Russians were nearly half of the population and the parties they supported managed to win several countrywide elections. Big voting differences were visible along regional/ethnic lines. The country had strong economic relations with Russia. Its industry depended on Russian gas while nearly all its machine and steel exports went to Russia.

The U.S. did not like that. It wanted to control rule the Ukraine to be able to put pressure on Russia. It twice, in 2004 and in 2014, organized ‘color revolutions’ to overthrow elected Ukrainian governments which, for mostly economic reasons, tended to favor relations with Russia.

The 2014 color revolution was exceptionally brutal. The U.S. had organized extreme right wing groups to take the lead in violent protests. (The same groups were in the early 1940s allied with German Nazis  and, between 1948 and 1952, were waging a CIA led guerrilla war against the Soviet Union.) The street fighting ended with an unconstitutional change of the government of Ukraine.

The first law that the new coup government implemented was a rejection of Russian as one of Ukraine’s state languages. For some 50% of Ukrainians Russian is their daily language. Ukrainian itself is a Russian dialect. Nearly 100% of Ukrainians understand Russian.

The ethnic Russian people in Ukraine feared being canceled. Crimea, which in 1991 had voted for and declared its independence before the Ukraine did so, voted, under Russian protection, to join Russia. Moscow accepted the move.

People in other former Russian parts of Ukraine protested and a some in the east took up arms. They twice defeated the Ukrainian army and volunteer formations sent against them. The Minsk I and II agreements that followed required Ukraine to give those Donbas oblasts significant autonomy. The United Nations Security Council acknowledged and supported the agreements. But any attempts to implement them were sabotaged by the U.S. via the armed right wing movements that had control over the government in Kiev.

For eight long years the people in the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics defended their borders against constant  Ukrainian attempts to solve the conflict by violence. While the people in those republics had voted for the independence of their republics, and to become a part of Russia, the Kremlin did not want to accept that. It wanted that those republics stay within Ukraine and insisted on the implementation of the Minsk agreements.

In 2015 the U.S. and NATO started to build a new Ukrainian army. They succeeded. By 2021 it was larger than most armies of NATO countries. Plans were made to invade the Donbas republics. In 2021 Russia became aware that a first attempt was soon to be made. It launched large maneuvers of its own military near its western border to deter such attempts. The situation settled down.

Any attempt of the Ukraine to overwhelm the Donbas, and the likely progroms that were to follow, would have created a situation in which the Russian government would be pressed very hard by its own people to intervene. Russians see the inhabitants of those areas as part of their own people.

When the Kremlin learned of new plans to attack the Donbas republics in 2022 it took a stand. It send quasi ultimatums to the U.S. and NATO and requested security agreements that would deny NATO membership to Ukraine. The ultimatums were rejected. The U.S. wanted war in Ukraine to a. ‘weaken’ Russia and to b. get stronger control over its European ‘allies’ and economic competitors.

On February 17 the Ukrainian army launched artillery preparations for an all out attack on the Donbas republics. Over the next days the shelling increased from some 40 artillery explosions per day to over 2,000 per day. Russia had to act. On February 22 it recognized the independence of the Donbas republics and signed defense agreements with them. On February 24 it send its troops to defeat the Ukrainian army and to make any future attacks on the Donbas impossible.

Since then Russia and its allied local forces have gained control of all of Luhank, 60% of Donetsk and most of the southern oblasts Kherson and Zaparozhia. But Russia also learned that the very limited forces it had sent were unable to fulfill its aim of disarming Ukraine. To call up and use reservist required a legal change. Local officials in the Russian controlled oblasts organized referenda for the people to decide if they want their become independent of Ukraine to then join Russia. Large majorities voted for the proposals.

Michael Tracey @mtracey – 11:13 UTC · Sep 30, 2022

Ukraine resident originally from Luhansk tells the BBC, “to be honest, for me, it seems that more than half of the population” in his hometown support annexation by Russia
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Today the President of the Russian Federation signed agreements with the republics for them to become part of Russia.

Any attempt to attack them is now an attack on Russia. They are under full protection of the Russian Federation, its military and those of its allies.

For Ukraine to continue the war will mean the assured defeat of its army and further dismemberment as more regions will join Russia and Poland, Hungary and Romania will try to take the regions of Ukraine they previously controlled.

‘Western’ propaganda calls the votes for to join Russia  a ‘sham’ and the process an ‘annexation’. But the votes were very real. The very high results for joining Russia are understandable Ukraine rejected these people and as those who oppose Russia have long left those regions.

The UN Charter acknowledges a right to self determination. The U.S. is itself (ab)using that right whenever it is in favor of its political aims:

In his address to the UN, Biden insisted that, even had the vote not been fixed and a sham, it would never be recognized because it is “an extremely significant violation of the UN charter.” The fluidity of that claim, depending on US foreign policy interests, is exposed by Biden’s near simultaneous insistence three days earlier that “Taiwan makes their own judgments about their independence. … that’s their decision.” It doesn’t violate the UN charter if it works against China; it violates the UN charter if it works for Russia. Furthermore, the US officially recognizes other annexations, most recently the Moroccan annexation of Western Sahara.

But the hypocrisy that most makes Russia boil is Kosovo. In 2008, when Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia without even the pretense of holding a referendum, the US recognized the declaration against repeated UN resolutions upholding the territorial integrity of Yugoslavia. Sakwa also points out that the US endorsed “the infamous advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice … that Kosovo’s declaration of independence ‘did not violate general international law’.”

AP reports on today’s ceremony:

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed treaties Friday to annex parts of Ukraine in defiance of international law, vowing to protect the newly incorporated regions by “all available means” in another escalation of his seven-month invasion of the country.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy responded by saying his country is submitting an “accelerated” application to join the NATO military alliance.

Putin urged Ukraine to sit down for peace talks but immediately insisted he won’t discuss handing back occupied regions — keeping him on a collision course with the Ukrainian government and its Western backers that have rejected his land-grab.

In a Kremlin ceremony at the ornate St. George’s Hall to herald the annexation of the occupied parts of Ukraine, Putin accused the West of fueling the hostilities as part of what he said is a plan to turn Russia into a “colony” and a “crowds of slaves.” The hardening of his position, in the conflict that that has killed and wounded tens of thousands of people, further cranked up tensions, already at levels unseen since the Cold War.

The Kremlin ceremony came three days after the completion in occupied regions of Moscow-orchestrated “referendums” on joining Russia that were dismissed by Kyiv and the West as a bare-faced land grab held at gunpoint and based on lies.

But Putin, in a fiery speech at the ceremony, insisted that Ukraine must treat the Kremlin-managed votes “with respect.”

After the signing ceremony of treaties to join Russia, Moscow-installed leaders of the occupied regions gathered around Putin and they all linked hands, before then joining chants of “Russia! Russia!” with the audience.

Putin also railed at the West, cutting an angry figure as he accused the United States and its allies of seeking to destroy Russia. He said the West acted “as a parasite” and used its financial and technological strength “to rob the entire world.”

He portrayed Russia as being on a historical mission to reclaim its post-Soviet great power status and counter Western domination that he said is collapsing.

“History has called us to a battlefield to fight for our people, for the grand historic Russia, for future generations,” he said.

I have not yet heard of new Russian plans for the war. But I expect that Russia’s reaction to Ukrainian attacks, as well as to NATO support for them, will soon become way more severe. Previously Putin had said about the war “we haven’t even started yet.”

I advice everyone to take that seriously.