04/06/2021, 10.32
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Moscow amasses troops on the Ukrainian border

by Vladimir Rozanskij

Since 2014, a "low intensity" conflict continues in the Donbass. The provinces of Donetsk and Lugansk regularly use the Russian ruble, Russian weapons and Russian passports. Ukraine perhaps the victim of a geopolitical game.


Moscow (AsiaNews) - Russian armed divisions are moving near the Donbass, on the Ukrainian borders. It is the same area where a "low intensity" conflict between Russia and Ukraine has continued since 2014. The massive movement of armed forces is of great concern: The United States has placed its troops in Europe at the highest level of alert. They report to the Kremlin that the deployment of troops on the Ukrainian border "should not worry anyone", but Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj spoke on the phone with Joe Biden, receiving assurances of the USA’s "unchanged support" in the defence of Ukrainian sovereignty.

One of the Ukrainian representatives of the trilateral dialogue group for Donbass, Sergej Garmash (left in the photo), spoke about the situation with currentime.tv reporters. He was accompanied by the Russian expert for international relations Alexei Naumov (right in the photo). According to Garmash, " they are more concerned with this situation abroad than we are in Ukraine".

For seven years, Russia has continued to deny its participation in the conflict, without explaining why the provinces of Donetsk and Lugansk regularly use the Russian ruble and possess Russian weapons; their citizens receive a Russian passport; their representatives are calling for annexation to Russia.

According to Garmash, "if Russia insists that it is an internal Ukrainian conflict, it should not oppose the intervention of the Ukrainian government, and it should stop supplying weapons and money to the Donbass". Tensions all accumulate on the borders of the disputed area, while Ukraine is experiencing a decidedly calmer situation within it.

On April 2, the Security and Defense Council met in Kiev, under the presidency of Zelenskii, and the issue of the Donbass was touched upon only in passing, assuring that "the Ukrainian army is able to respond to any attack ". The state of alert of US troops in Europe, moreover, is not accompanied by similar measures for the army of Kiev. "One gets the impression - adds Garmash - that they are using us for some geo-political game", especially after Biden's description of Putin as a "killer".

Even Germany and France have declared that Russia is to be considered a party to the Ukrainian conflict, and not a mediator country, and the recent manoeuvres seem to be a response to these statements. Russia follows its own repertoire: when things go wrong in the diplomatic field, it reacts aggressively on a military level. However, Garmash believes that this is more of a provocation than a real threat.

Russia seems unwilling to sit at the negotiating table of the "Norman quartet" (Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine) linked to the 2015 Minsk agreements, even if according to Naumov "now Russia has no interest in the worsening of the conflict, especially in the final phase of the construction of the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline ".

The accumulation of war materials, in short, is a warning to Kiev, rather than a preparation for an initiative by the Russians; Kiev, on the other hand, is interested in the failure of the pipeline, as evidenced by its foreign policy efforts in recent months.

However, Russia claims a patronage based on the “Russian" dimensions of social life in the Donbass area: the preservation of the Russian language over all, as well as the recognition of independent "special status" of the two provinces, a system that Moscow applies to various areas under its control, such as Moldovan Transnistria or Georgian Abkhazia and Ossetia. For this Moscow intends to flex its muscles, suggesting that it is always ready for the rekindling of hostilities. It is difficult to think, moreover, that the United States really intends to go to war with Russia for the regions of eastern Ukraine. It is more likely that they intend to sit down at the negotiating table of the "Norman" group as a fifth guest.


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