Oleg Tsarev on the Main Conditions of the Reintegration of Donbass Into Ukraine

Why does Kiev not want to pursue the special status of the DPR and the LPR as a part of Ukraine through the Constitution? If we imagine that the reintegration process will be launched, will it not follow the path of the physical destruction of Donbass residents? Who will guarantee it and how?

In order to accept Ukraine’s proposals, it is necessary to first deploy troops across the front, not just in two points. And it is necessary to amend the Constitution of Ukraine. Is it possible for the Donbass republics to join Russia through the implementation of the Minsk Agreements?

This questions were answered by former Ukrainian politician, deputy of the Verkhovna Rada of four convocations, and speaker of the Parliament of Novorossiya Oleg Tsarev.

Oleg, it seems that Ukraine again took a stubborn position and will blackmail Russia and Europe with the gas issue. Like saying, we will stop transit, and you do what you want, and if you will meet our proposals on Donbass and support us, then there will be transit. What is your view on this?

“I consider that these are unrelated questions. It is simply a convenient format in general, when the leaders of Europe, the President of Ukraine, and the President of Russia come together. It is therefore also a convenient format for talking and possibly deciding immediately on the spot to continue transit.”

From your point of view, is it really necessary for the people’s republics of Donbass to reintegrate into Ukraine? If necessary, from what point of view?

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“I was one of the organisers of the referendum in Donbass. It was understandable that the desire of the residents of Donbass, expressed in the referendum, was clear: that Donbass joins Russia, and ideally in general all of Ukraine joins Russia together. But this didn’t come true, and we have what we have. Some agreements have been signed on the situation.

We see that the political agreements signed by the Russian Federation, Western partners, and Ukraine itself are implemented by Ukraine, let us say, only when there is a need for it, when the current Ukrainian authorities believe that it benefits them at the moment.

So somehow it is not profitable at all and even pointless to sign an agreement with them, because they want – comply with them, want – do not comply with them. In general, speaking of agreements between Russia and Ukraine, I do not remember since the collapse of the Soviet Union at least one agreement that would benefit the Russian Federation.”

I.e., it is not profitable neither for Russia, and especially not for the republics of Donbass. And in general it turns out that it is not necessary to play giveaways with non-contracting partners. Would you like nothing to happen at the meeting in the “Normandy format” and the current situation remains?…

“There is need to demand what Vladimir Putin demands now. He requires either the thorough implementation of the Minsk Agreements, or it is necessary to think about doing something in the republics. Because the question is being postponed, the population of Donbass is leaving. And the economic and social situation there is very difficult. People and the region have been in limbo for a very long time.

The Donbass integration solution requires a lot of investment and money. This is a serious program: it is necessary to launch factories, give people jobs, build another branch of the railway, because Donbass is working for Donbass. Railway raw materials from Krivoy Rog, electricity from Zaporozhye, exports to Ukraine… from Ukraine, because only Ukrainian certificates of origin are suitable.”

Let us imagine for a moment that the reintegration of Donbass took place. Versions of possible future scenarios appear…

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“With Ukraine or Russia?…”

With Ukraine… And some time after that, as there will be autonomy, the Constitution and other signs of independent statehood, Donbass launches some legitimate process of declaring independence. Then most countries, including Western countries, recognise this as legitimate? If so, then, after some time, you could already reintegrate into Russia. How do you like that scenario? Is it possible or just fantasies?

“Crimea had autonomy, it had its own Constitution and everything else. Still, no one in the world recognised this process, and imposed sanctions on the Russian Federation. So it’s not such a simple and easy path. And autonomy here helps, but very mildly. Therefore, I think that if a decision is made to implement the Minsk Agreements on Putin’s terms, there should be disengagement, there should be as many such points as possible.

Currently we have withdrawn troops in only two places, but it should be done in 20 sites along the entire boundary line. And, of course, the contact group should work very seriously. It is necessary to work out the Constitution of Donbass, it is necessary to prescribe guarantees, it is necessary to make changes to the Constitution of Ukraine.

Why is the bullet point of making changes to the Constitution of Ukraine so important for Putin and important for the Republics? Because if there is no formalised status in the Constitution, it will be possible to immediately reverse everything with one vote in the Verkhovna Rada – to introduce troops again, to crush, to sweep away activists, to put everyone in prisons, to organise concentration camps.

If the Constitution is amended, voting on the Ukrainian Constitution will have to take place in two different sessions. I.e., at one session it is necessary to vote by a simple majority, to send to the Constitutional Court a draft of this act. After that, the Constitutional Court considers it and then returns it to Parliament with its opinion. If it is positive, then the Constitution is amended by 300 votes. So this path is long.”

Yury Kondratyev

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