Monday, 21 February 2022 — Moon of Alabama
Updated (again) below
The Russian National Security Council has been meeting today to discuss the recognition of the Donetzk People’s Republic (DNR) and Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) as independent states.
The whole meeting was shown on public TV. RT-English provided a live translation. The purpose of the show was to present Russia’s arguments to an international public.
Last week the Russian parliament submitted a resolution which asked the president of Russia to recognize the DNR and LNR. Earlier today the leaders of the DNR and LNR made a formal official request to recognize their republics.
The security council heard the opinions of the prime minister, foreign minister and defense minister. The leaders of parliament and of the security services also spoke.
The military reported that earlier today a group of Ukrainian saboteurs had tried to cross onto Russian ground but was prevent from doing so. A published video of the incident showed two burning BMP infantry fighting vehicles. Russia says that five of the intruders have been killed and one of them has been arrested.
Defense minister Shoigu reported that there are some 60,000 Ukrainian soldiers at the border of the DNR and LNR together with more than 500 tanks and lots of artillery. He also pointed out that the Ukrainian president Zelensky had announced that the Ukraine would leave the Budapest agreement and start to build nuclear bombs. He said the Ukraine has the knowledge and means to do that and called the move extremely dangerous.
It was pointed out that recent artillery attacks had destroyed part of the water supply for Donetzk and that the destruction of a pipeline left many people without gas. This is seen as an emergency situation. Some 70,000 refugees have been received in Russia.
Several members of the security council pointed out that some 700,000 of the 4.6 million inhabitants of the rebellious Donbas region already have a Russian passport, some 500,000 more have applied for one. These are formal Russian citizens which Russia must protect from harm.
All members were of the opinion that the current situation needs a new solution. The Ukrainian government is obviously unwilling to fulfill the Minsk agreements by giving more autonomy to its Donbas region. It is instead trying to regain the region by war.
All were of the opinion that the republics should therefore be recognized. The head of Russia’s foreign intelligence service, Sergey Naryshkin, said the the republics should be integrated into Russia. Putin told him that such a step was not under discussion.
After hearing all opinions Putin said that he would make the decision later today.
What would it mean if Russia recognizes the DNR and LNR as sovereign states? For one – the Minsk agreement, which the Ukraine does not want to implement anyway, would be null and void.
What other steps would follow was not discussed but there are certain possibilities.
The DNR and LNR could ask for a common defense agreement with the Russian Federation. The Russian military could then move into the DNR and LNR.
Neither the DNR nor the LNR incorporate all land that defines the formal administrative Donetzk and Luhansk regions of the Ukraine. The republics, with Russia’S help, could try to extend the border of DNR and LNR to the original administrative borders of those regions. That probably would mean a war which I still find unlikely to happen.
The economic integration of the DNR and LNR into Russia’s economy should be no problem. Both regions are rather rich with minerals like anthracite coal. Both have large industrial installations and a well educated Russian speaking public.
An open question is what the ‘west’ would do if Russia recognizes the republics.
The national security council is expecting more sanctions but several members shrugged them off. They said that sanctions would be imposed anyway no matter what Russia does or does not do. They expect that in the long term the sanctions will increase Russia’s autonomy and expand its economy. The sanctions are also expected to erode over time as Russia offers desirable products and is in itself a large market.
I find it unlikely that the ‘west’ would impose all sanctions it has prepared in response to Russia’s move today. It would the expense of all economic ammunition that can be used against Russia. As Russia still could take more serious action some sanctions must be held back for that eventuality.
Later today Russia’s president Vladimir Putin will give a televised speech to announce his decision.
I will update this post when it is known.
Maxim A. Suchkov @m_suchkov –
Update 18:28 UTC:
The above tweet has now been confirmed by an official Kremlin statement about the phone call (machine translation):
Vladimir Putin had telephone conversations with President of the French Republic Emmanuel Macron and Federal Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany Olaf Scholz.
Vladimir Putin informed about the results of the expanded meeting of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, which considered the current situation around Donbass in the context of the State Duma’s decision on the recognition of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics. Today, the leadership of the DPR and LPR received appeals to recognize their sovereignty in connection with the military aggression of the Ukrainian authorities, massive shelling of the territory of Donbass, as a result of which the civilian population suffers.
With all this in mind, the President of Russia said that he intended to sign a relevant decree in the near future.
The President of France and the Federal Chancellor of Germany expressed their disappointment with this development. At the same time, they indicated their readiness to continue contacts.
Update 19:42 UTC:
It has happened. After a TV speech on the development of the Ukraine since the begin of Soviet communism and after laying out the list of Russian grievances with western aggression Putin signed the official recognition of the Donbas republics as independent states. There are now also cooperation agreements on defense and other issues signed by Putin as well as the heads of the Donbas republics.
If the Ukraine continues its war on Donbas Russia will respond with force.