Expert Explains: Why Putin Shouldn’t Annex Donbass

Expert Explains: Why Putin Shouldn’t Annex Donbass

An expert explains

Why Putin shouldn’t annex Donbass

According to a Russian media, Russia plans to annex Donetsk and Luhansk regions. An expert warns, however: an annexation, like Crimea in 2014, would have more disadvantages than advantages for Russia.

Published: 11.06.2022 at 14:02 o’clock

According to the Russian media in exile “Meduza”, which is based on sources close to Vladimir Putin, the latter plans to annex the Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhya in order to consolidate them into a single federal district within the Russia.

According to information from the media, it would first be a question of organizing referenda on joining Russia in these regions, before creating a new district. Staff for the management of regional and communal administrations in the Donbass are currently being recruited, as well as staff for the “civil-military administrations” in the Kherson and Zaporizhia regions.

But the annexation of these territories, on the model of the annexation of Crimea in 2014, would not only bring benefits to Russia. In any case, this is the opinion of Olga Oliker, political scientist and head of the “Europe and Central Asia” think tank at the “International Crisis Group”.

Annexation of regions has drawbacks

On Twitter, she doubts that the Russian government dares to take such a step. “As for Donetsk, Luhansk and probably also southern Ukraine, Russia has real advantages in keeping them as independent regions,” she explains. According to her, an annexation would have serious consequences for the Russian Federation – and not only in terms of sanctions.

Recently, the court in Donetsk sentenced to death two British fighters and a Moroccan fighter who had fought against Russia in Ukraine. These “grotesque” death sentences are on the one hand a way of challenging Ukraine and its supporters. On the other hand, these condemnations could force the West to negotiate with Donetsk and recognize the separatist territories. But both presuppose that Donetsk and Luhansk are not part of Russia, where the death penalty is banned. Keeping its territories independent could therefore be beneficial for the Kremlin, which will thus be able to continue to make them strategic objects.

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For Olga Oliker, there is still an advantage to annexation: “If Russia annexes more Ukrainian territories, it will be able to claim that military attacks against these territories are attacks against Russia itself.”

“Meduza” had already reported in April that the Kremlin was looking for Russian politicians to work as “political officers” in Ukrainian territories occupied by Russia. According to the sources quoted, this research would have “strongly intensified” lately.

(Adapted by Thibault Gilgen)

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