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Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard


Russian war correspondent, journalist, and publicist Andrei Babitski, who now lives and works in Donetsk is sure that Russian people will never leave Donbass. He does not exclude the possibility of recognition by Russia and the EU of the outcome of the referendum of Donbass in 2014. But the writer still sees the future of Ukraine as a Federation, where Donbass will be the assembly point for the new country.

News Front: It seems that shelling supposedly had to stop from September 1st. What do you hear from your window? Is it already really quiet and silent for the fifth day?

“As I understand it, the shelling has really stopped. This is already the second time in my memory. In fact, the beginning of the last school year there also was a situation when the shelling stopped, but in reality they stopped on not September 1st, but three days before this, and now mortars became silent exactly as 1st September arrived. But meanwhile, in general, silence is maintained.”

News Front: Andrei, it turns out that in life you saw not only one civil conflict and one war. Arriving in Donbass, you have seen a new conflict. At which point is this war similar to other civil wars and what is the difference? What distinguishes the war in Donbass from the Chechen war?

“Well, in the Chechen war, as I have repeatedly talked about, we should compare the Chechens with the current Ukrainians. It was also a ethno-separatist war for national identity, a war that cost the Russians in Chechnya very much: most of them, practically all of them, were forced to leave, and many were killed. At the time, the Chechens in their motivation and ideology are not too different from those Ukrainians who support military actions in Donbass. In this sense there is a paradoxical similarity between these wars.

As for other wars, of course, probably, it is possible to compare them with Transnistria, Abkhazia, and Ossetia. However, I would say that the war in Donbass has its own distinctive feature. I formulate it in the following way: this war is the first war of Russians fighting for their own identity, their own values.

Yes, people try to remember Transnistria, but I would say that Transnistria fought rather for the Soviet identity. In fact, it was a very international region, and it is clear that Ukrainians and Moldovans who lived in Transdniestria joined this war for the Soviet past. Here the region is ethnically more homogeneous. And here, there are people who clearly understand what things others want to deprive them of, and this understanding for a long time was the source of such a smouldering conflict. But when Kiev went for broke, people simply arose with weapons in their hands, knowing that they will have to cede their Russianness, which they value in themselves.”

News Front: Now from Kiev we hear statements that as soon as Russians leave Donbass, as soon as separatist-terrorists lay down their weapons, it is at this moment Ukraine will start to rebuild Donbass, to restore everything destroyed. But I understand this in only way, that it is filtration camps, in the best case scenario, that are awaiting practically all people who are today in Donbass – Lugansk and Donetsk republics. Because we observe the Donetsk and Lugansk regions – those parts under the Ukrainian impact, influence, and control. No Kopecks, no cents from American IMF money was invested over the years there. Also, it would seem that here you have freedom to do it! Hey guys, why won’t you show the rest of Donbass, how in that Donbass – under Ukrainian control – you can rebuild the motherland.

“There’s no point in discussing something that cannot be realized in principle. That is, it is clear that Donbass, those parts that are liberated will never become part of Ukraine. It will become the center of attraction for other Ukrainian regions. Not necessarily territorial attraction, but a spiritual one. As for “Russians will leave”, Russians will not leave! Because Russians are living here. Where can they go? Russia’s aid, I think, will not be curtailed under any circumstances. The situation, of course, will not remain in the status quo – it will develop.

Ukraine is in a rapid economic collapse, and also political – we see that power is mainly intercepted by the streets . Its political structure does not correspond to the real situation. An extremely weak President who is unable to control bandit groups from setting fire to a television station in Kiev, while officially he has enormous powers. I think that the country, torn apart by these kinds of contradictions, and economic troubles, and the fact that inside a multidimensional tangling of forces competing for power has formed… it seems to me that Donbass, of course, will become the area where stability and order triumphs.

Not without problems, of course. But I believe that the challenges of growth are organic. They, generally speaking, were being laid down in the project of building the state from scratch. I have a feeling that the territories of Ukraine, which will find itself in a state of chaos, will reach out to an obvious working model of order and a functioning system of governance. Therefore, it seems to me that Donbass is such a point of Assembly. Not of the Russian Ukraine, no. But of Ukraine in principle. Ukraine, which after some time will start to suffocate from the nostalgia of ordinary, normal, and human conditions: when power works when it’s not afraid to walk the streets. I suppose that because the pace of development of situation is very high that within a year, or two, or three we will see a completely new situation in Ukraine.”

News Front: When, in your opinion, will those unchangeable, non-retrospective processes start in Ukraine? Can Russia, the European Union, and the Normandy group afford the luxury of recognizing the referendum results in 2014 in the Donetsk and Lugansk republics, when the entire of two regions voted almost in the same way as the Crimean people did for independence from a Ukraine where a coup took place?

“You know, I think – Yes. This situation with the referendum, in reality, will spread itself on some new territories. It seems to me that the EU and Russia today are very interested in Ukraine not sinking in chaos, and that the fratricidal war of all against all does not grip the entire territory. Because this territory is a territory of gas transit in which the EU has a vested interest, and will be interested for a very long time. This territory represent nuclear plants, where an accident can very significantly spoil the life of both the EU and Russia.

Minsk is clearly not working; it was thrown into the trash, because the Normandy format is destroyed, and respectively Ukraine and Russia will have to think of some new conditions to maintain at least basic stability in Ukraine. I think that it will be done at the expense of a substantial expansion of the rights of Donbass. And not only of Donbass – we know that also other territories, if they were free from the control of Kiev, could go entirely in the same direction. Therefore, it seems to me that Russian, sane-thinking Ukraine and Ukrainian-thinking Ukraine will receive a new chance in order – even if it’s not possible to take power in the country, but at least with the help of the EU and Russia – to try to impose their own rules on this structure of governance that now owns Ukraine.”

News Front: It is clear that Ukraine is not Chechnya. Chechnya is a small, poor, mountainous Republic. Ukraine was once a huge, rich country, 52 million of loving-eachother people. And here, it’s possible that the Ukrainian version of Akhmad Kadyrov could appear in Ukraine? A man on whom you can rely on. He will not be pro-Russian. He will be pro-Ukrainian sane person who is able to say – “I am ready to take responsibility, if not for the whole of Ukraine, but a large part of it – I will maintain, I will bring order to her.”

“No, I exclude this option. Simply because what we say about Chechnya – it’s a mono-ethnic, very compact region, despite the fact that their number makes them the third-most indigenous peoples in Russia. Nevertheless, it was possible to restore order there with one-firm hand. Ukraine, in contrary, is very diverse. She is, so to speak, a failed Federation. That is, the regions are very different from each other, from West to East.

In fact, the current Ukrainian chaos with a minus sign basically gives an idea about how diverse Ukraine could be with a plus sign. That is, the region of  former Zaporozhian Sich is very different from former Austro-Hungary, Malorossiya, or Novorossiya. Therefore, it seems to me that federalization is the inevitable path for Ukraine. And I personally do not think Akhmad Kadyrov a successful and trouble-free politician. He is not an example for me. But some sane-thinking, strong, smart, powerful people who would be able to dominate circumstances, will be in regions but not in the leadership of the country.”

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  • K Pomeroy

    Hi. Stalkerzone has some good articles. A little disappointed you won’t allow them to be copied.

  • Ollie Richardson

    Hi, as has been explained before, after multiple thefts of content by a certain pseudo-journalist, the decision was made to protect our work. If one wishes to post excerpts of the content, they can message me privately and something can be arranged. I understand that it can be frustrating when trying to disseminate information, but unfortunately there are criminal people who will use all means to make money.

  • K Pomeroy

    Thanks for your kind reply. Quemado Institute’s News from Novorossiya page runs a lot of articles about Donbass, including some translated by you and many from Fort Russ. As chief editor, I rarely have time to write my own articles. Yet I want to keep people updated. I will try to contact you personally.

  • pat bredl

    Nothing is being said on Canadian news and Canadians are in denial. No one is saying anything at all, as though this has not happened.