Andrey Babitsky: What Is Behind Denis Pushilin’s Statement About the DPR’s “Intensive Phase of Integration” With Russia?

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard


At the beginning of the week the head of the DPR Denis Pushilin made a statement that most likely not many paid attention to, having considered it to be an empty rhetorical expression. But meanwhile, it is worth taking heed of these words at least because they give a quite complete idea of what the political policy of the present leaders of the republic is.

Here is the exact quote: “The integration of Donbass into Russia passed into an intensive phase. But it’s still too early to say that it will finish tomorrow”. It can seem that what was said is lacking any sense. What “intensive phase” can we speak of when the republic already for several years has remained stationary, being the owner of the doubtful status of a territory that isn’t recognised by anyone. The vision of the ordinary citizen doesn’t see any signs that rapprochement with Russia is ongoing, let alone “intensively”. I.e., someone who remembers the Soviet period will surely remember the crackling slogans of that era about the procession of the Soviet people increasing its pace towards the inevitable victory of communism.

Meanwhile, the given analogy can seem to be correct only at first sight. If, as time went on, the USSR moved further away from the communistic tomorrow, then rapprochement between the DPR and Russia indeed takes place. There are absolutely specific integration spectra that can be easily calculated. This is the ruble zone and the budget of the republic, the biggest part of which is being formed thanks to revenues from Russia, the curatorship along military and civil lines, the recognition of all republican documents as valid on Russian territory, and help with the restoration of industry, educational programs, and Russian-esque certificates upon graduation from universities.

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Integration is a visible and intrinsic process that can be measured and described. But are there the grounds to speak about an “intensive phase”? After all, everything that was mentioned above is already quite old affairs and decisions, and during the past year nothing that would speak about continuing rapprochement happened. I would interpret Pushilin’s words not as being characteristic of an integration policy of Russia in relations with the republic, but as his own goal-setting. I.e., he stated that will make every effort so that the DPR moves in the chosen direction at a quicker rate, increasing the gap between themselves and Ukraine.

When Moscow actually insisted on there being a lack of an alternative to the candidacy of Denis Pushilin for the post of the head of the republic, many considered that it was a question of the DPR preparing for capitulation in front of Kiev, like saying: the Kremlin puts an obedient figure in the leader’s chair in order to slowly get rid of the wearisome ballast. For me these fears immediately seemed to be groundless, but now we can completely forget about them. The main principle of the policy of the new leadership is formulated extremely distinctly and definitively.

But concerning the prospect of integration, I don’t have any good news on this topic for you. The calculation that it will finish in the next year or two is unlikely to be correct. in fact, the Russian government doesn’t hide that it doesn’t intend to limit itself to the territory of Donbass, meaning a restoration of a normal order of things in Ukraine. In December the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov, answering the question of the Komsomolskaya Pravda radio station journalist, explained that “if Russia recognises the republics of Donbass — DPR and LPR — then it will lose the rest of Ukraine”.

Indeed, both in the event of recognition and definitive integration, an insuperable geopolitical border will sit between Ukraine and the People’s Republics, whereas now the DPR and LPR, which didn’t recognise the coup in Kiev in 2014, are the only legitimate successors of the Ukrainian authorities. It is precisely for this reason that the inevitable crash of neo-Nazi Ukrainian regime will allow especially Donetsk and Lugansk to determine the future of Ukraine, which will sooner or later will nevertheless be connected to Russia by allied and brotherly relations. The blood ties connecting two Slavic people now seem to be severed forever, but this is only a facade. Reunification on these or those grounds will nevertheless happen at least because Ukraine without Russia is doomed to fade away and degrade. This is well seen in its present state.

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That’s why the role of a locomotive, which will one day drag the carriages – Ukrainian regions – in the necessary direction, is being prepared for the republics. For me this role seems to be honourable and extremely responsible. Donetsk and Lugansk are the closest partners of Moscow in a very important operation that aims to give back Ukraine its place in culture and history — shoulder to shoulder with Russia. The DPR and LPR already occupied this position, and in this sense it is possible to say that if to judge things not on formal, but intrinsic grounds, then the integration took place when two Russian regions of Ukraine publicly declared their intention to remain with Russia and to not go along the way of Euro-atlantic integration with a Nazi aftertaste. So Pushilin’s statement at the meta-historical level completely corresponds to the reality of the present situation.

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