Is Luhansk about to be annexed by Russia?

Russian army invading Crimea, Ukraine

Russian army invading Crimea, Ukraine 

2014/09/06 • Featured, War in the Donbas

the city is full of Russian soldiers

In a series of Tweets today, German MP and member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) Marieluise Beck described the Russian occupation in Luhansk as she saw it – and the ominous signs of its potential annexation.

Occupation & infrastructure

In the messages, Beck says that the city is “full of Russian soldiers,” and that an engineering brigade has already begun the reconstruction of infrastructure, including electrical lines, to Russia.

Columns of Russian armor and thousands of troops have been seen in the region in recent days.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has already called for discussions on the region’s “statehood” and Russian-installed officials have announced bilateral negotiations with Moscow  “at the highest level” over the supply of Russian gas to occupied territory via a Luhansk pipeline. Such negotiations bypassing Kyiv would confer de facto recognition of southern Luhansk as being independent from Ukraine.

“In Moscow we have discussed the issues concerning the heating season and gas. We have a separate pipeline and we were guaranteed to receive gas supplies. The pipeline comes into the Lugansk region and covers the Donetsk region. We are the only two regions that in general do not rely on Ukraine,” Leonid Baranov, the Donetsk Republic’s so-called “Minister of State Security” told Russian media.

Russian passports

Mirroring Crimea, Beck also confirms that Russian passports are already being handed out in the city, and that Russian soldiers are distributing to locals cash sums of Russian currency.

After the Russian-Georgian ceasefire, Russian-backed police in South Ossetia forced ethnic Georgians to accept Russian passports or leave, amounting to ethnic cleansing.

“Russian authorities have launched the full-scale issuing of Russian passports in Donetsk and Luhansk. It is being done to give Russia an excuse to bring in the Russian Army under the pretext of protecting Russian citizens,” said Yuriy Serhiyev, Ambassador of Ukraine to the United Nations yesterday.

Ominous similarities

Since signing a ceasefire agreement with Georgia two weeks ago, the Russian military and its local allies have carved a substantial buffer zone around the tiny enclave. To consolidate its latest conquests, Moscow has shipped in what Georgian officials describe as “industrial batches” of passports.

“The Russians are telling everyone in the town they must take a Russian passport,” said Akhalgori shopowner Guram Chkhvidze. “One came to me and explained that if I did not take it, my safety could not be certain. I was scared, so I am leaving.”

The Telegraph, August 30, 2008

Linguistic and religious Russification

Russification has also begun in the school system, with Beck also informing that lessons are already being conducted with Russian school textbooks; the curriculum change to that of the Russian Federation was verified by the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission. In Crimea, the Ukrainian language was summarily banned from schools by Russia.

“The Ukrainian church and the mosque in Luhansk have been closed. The Ukrainian-Orthodox priests had to flee,” read another tweet by the German MP observer.

Sectarian violence and religious persecution has been widespread during the conflict, with pro-Russian separatists considering Christian denominations such as the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyivan Patriarchate, Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Roman Catholics, and Protestants, as anti-Russian and see them as obstacles in the path of the separatist goal of uniting the region with Russia.

Previously during the occupation and annexation of Crimea by Russian forces, Ukrainian Catholics were forced to flee the peninsula under threat of arrest and property seizures. “All my parishioners are patriotic Ukrainians who love their Crimean homeland. But Russia is now seeking to drive us out,” Father Milchakovskyi told the Catholic News Service in April. The Ukrainian Catholic Church was banned under the Moscow regime from 1946 to 1989, resulting in many clergymen arrested and Church property appropriated by the state and Russian Church.

New Russia or Novorossiya, Russia’s name for the occupied parcels of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, has already embedded in its constitution that it will act as a monolingual Russian state, with the Russian Orthodox Church and Russian Orthodoxy acting as the official state religion.

What next?

This story will develop in the coming days with a Tuesday press conference already scheduled by Russian-installed officials. The ongoing ceasefire may just be the calm needed to begin the process of solidifying Russian hegemony in the region, as occurred in Georgia. It remains to be see what form of annexation will take place: be it the formal annexation of Luhansk and neighboring Donetsk, facilitating their recognition as vassal states in the model of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, or unofficial recognition as Russia maintains with Transnistria.

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  • Jacks Channel

    I am ashamned to be called an American. My political leaders are gutless cowards. China must be snickering at our much vaunted “moral resolve of the mighty West”.

    There are no threats to Russian speakers in Ukraine. If there was, I would support Russian protection of Russians as peacekeepers. But there is no threat. No Sudetenland!

    • Amoun

      There is no threat to Russian speakers in Ukraine, there is a threat to Ukrainians themselves. Their government is bombing them because they do not agree with it, it is as simple as that.

  • Kruton

    EU=yellow dog cowards

    • Katabatic

      Please, go invade a third world country if you feel the need to bomb something, but please restrain to meddle in european affaires.

  • luc’s views

    I am also ashamed to be called a Canadian, they are so scared of Putin it makes me sick
    BRAVO USA, BRAVO NATO, CANADA SHAME ON YOU. ALL TALK AND AGAIN NO ACTION.

    • http://euromaidanpress.com Mat

      Canada sends aid and Harper is very vocal in his hatred for Putin.

      • sandy miller

        Mat…ukraine need boots and high tech weapons to help. I agree…shame on USA, UK but especially Germany. Basically Petro wasn’t given a choice in the matter. SHAME ON ALL THOSE BASTARDS ALL I CAN HOPE IS THEY GET THEIR COME UPPENCE. IN THE END A TERRIBLE WRONG WILL BE CORRECTED…I DO BELIEVE IN JUSTICE IN THE WORLD UNFORTUNATELY THE WEST DOESN’T ANYMORE. TO CONTINUE LETTING RUSSIA STEAL TERRITORY IS UNCONSIONABLE! HOW DO ALL THOSE SO CALLED LEADERS LIV WITH THEMSELVES? WHAT DID ALL THOSE UKRAINIANS DIE FOR?

  • Rods

    What did you expect from Barrack Chamberlain, David Chamberlain, Vlad’s Buddy Angela Chamberlain, Vlad’s armour François Chamberlain and the rest of the EU Chamberlain family. Their only fight will be the order of the queue that the crocodile Putin gets to eat them in!

    None of them have any principles, vision, ideas or resolve. They just flip-flop, zig-zag from one course to another where their only aim is to cling to power and its privileges where that is an end in its own right.

    This is why Putin sees the west as a weak, decadent, contemptible people that have lost their way. The good news is that he is wrong. It is our current professional political classes, who have slithered up the greasy political pole, with the only principle, the only thing that matters to them is to get to the top. Unfortunately, where the weak appeasing, idealists encouraged Hitler, so they are doing the same with Putler. Like from 1939-45, the people that will pay the price for the political failures of our current crop of weak politicians are the people that treat them with loathing and contempt, their voters, where we will be the cannon fodder. These politicians are going to eventually cause WWIII, but it won’t be for a few years and the loss of a few more territories in the mean time as Putler is going to need a few more years of military expansion and re-armouring (no doubt, with the West’s generous help) before he is ready to build his Eurasian empire from Lisbon to Vladivostok.

  • evanlarkspur

    Jack, I agree with you. The behavior of our “leaders” is deeply shaming to all Americans. It is time for Obama to resign and allow a leader of character, wisdom and integrity to assume the lead. I voted twice for Obama, so this is not some politically-motivated statement. We just cannot handle two more years of this. The cost to later recover what we are losing will be too expensive in every way.

    • Katabatic

      The question is,,,why the fuck do you have to have an opinion on european affairs? Why dont you go and invade Venezuela or something? At least is in YOUR CONTINENT (more or less)

  • Brent

    We can only hope that soon the pre-pubescent Barrack will “drop a pair” and start acting like a world leader who is willing to confront tyrannical leaders and stop acting like a dithering fool. He gave a great speech in Estonia, but showed no will to back up his words. Within days, an Estonian security official is kidnapped in Estonia and illegally taken to Russia for another show trial.

    Barrack, you’ve got 2000 M1 Abrams sitting in the desert outside of Reno that are going to be obsolete in 2017. Sell or give them to Ukraine and the Baltic countries so their own soldiers can defend their countries. You’ve got a nation full of gun toting rednecks that love to shoot things. Convince them Bambi is not their enemy and put a bounty on “Colorados” illegally in Ukraine and this mess you’ve let fester gets resolved by mid-October.

    “Hope and change” sure didn’t turn out to be for the better….

    • Katabatic

      LOL, I’m sure the DPR people will love your idea of sending 2000 M1 to the Pravy Sektor….
      At the end they will get them when, when the ucranians flee from the battlefield…AGAIN

    • Dirk Smith

      Obama has been in over his head since 2009. Sad reflection on our society who fell for this Chicago huckster’s great speeches. The only difference between Sharpton/Jackson and Obama is that Obama obtained Soros’s support and financial support, which allowed him to upset the Clinton machine. If Romney was elected, this wouldn’t be happening since he understood that Russia was, and remains, our geopolitical enemy. His ineptitude has caused the current state of affairs around the globe. Putin is a jackal who simply smelled appeasement from Obama and moved in.

  • albertphd

    Ukraine enjoys a privileged position in the world community today as perhaps no other nation?! It amazes me that so little thought is given to the options available to Ukraine and it’s multi-cultured peoples. Because only 8 million Russian citizens live in Ukraine (and 6 million Ukrainian citizens live in Russia), it amazes me that so much is made of the Russian language?! Virtually everyone in Ukraine speaks (or can understand) Ukrainian as well as Russian but very few Russians speak or even understand Ukrainian?! Perhaps this discrepancy is largely due to an air of superiority of the Russian language and Russian-speaking peoples over that of Ukrainian? Who knows? Who really cares to know?! For the key issue today is one of survival as a Ukrainian identity and as the Republic of Ukraine.

    To surrender regions or oblasts of Ukraine piecemeal to the Russian bear is unbearable (excuse the pun!). What one needs to do is to use one’s head and to think of the root causes and possible root cures of this growing Russian menace instead of simply treating the immediate symptoms of the problem as they become self-evident.

    Let me explain what I mean by way of an illustration. Ukraine can negotiate and trade with whatever country they as the Ukrainian people so desire: whether with China, the EU, NATO countries, the USA, Australia, Japan or whichever country they so fancy. There is no restriction (in theory, at least). Ukraine can obtain weapons of war (of every variety) independently from individual countries of the EU, NATO, USA, China or whichever country would be willing to trade Ukrainian wheat or grain or other commodities for these much-needed weapons of war.

    But to do so (however advisable to resolve immediate issues of today’s conflict in Ukraine) is really not the long-term resolution or solution to this growing menace, the unprovoked invasion into Ukraine by mercenaries and ‘volunteers’ of the Russian Federation (now recognized informally as a ‘rogue state’ by all nations of the civilized world). The lasting solution to this problem is to propose a resolution that would both save face for Russia’s Putin and stop the spread of aggression within Ukraine. But how, you ask, is that possible?

    Well, the answer is one of a compromise, but a compromise in which both sides can claim (to their separate peoples) a clear and certain victory.

    What I propose is to draw a lesson from the past. When China was faced with losing it’s two peninsulas of Hong Kong and Macau, it drew up an International Treaty: one, with England for Hong Kong, and the other, with Portugal, for Macau. These lands which retained Chinese sovereignty were leased for a set term of years to each of the foreign countries, as Special Administrative Regions of China.

    Let me explain how this scenario can apply to the Ukraine-Russia conflict. Let us say that an International Treaty Agreement can be made (with the EU, NATO countries, USA, Australia, Japan, etc. agreeing as joint co-sponsors for Ukraine to enforce the terms of this International Agreement). In this Lease Arrangement made between Ukraine and Russia, Russia would agree to recognize the Crimea, and the Luhansk Oblast and Donetsk Oblast as Autonomous Special Administration Oblasts of the Republic of Ukraine leased to Russia for, let’s say, 35 years to the year 2050 A.D. [at which point, there may be a possible renewal of said Lease on condition of the fulfillment of the terms of said Lease Agreement between both countries, Ukraine and Russia].

    Ten per cent of all the cities, villages, and rural areas throughout each Oblast or Region leased to Russia would be set aside (reserved) for the Republic of Ukraine to be used as military, tourist, and/ or government-controlled land areas throughout the lease period. There will be a new decree that the Ukrainian culture, language and customs would be tolerated throughout each of these oblasts leased to Ukraine as one of the mutually-agreed upon terms. The precise nature of all terms and obligations by the Leasee (Russia) would be set by the Leasor (Ukraine). For example, another term that would be obvious to all is that Russia would have to rebuild the Donbas area (Luhansk and Donetsk) that they have caused to be so utterly destroyed via their invasion into Ukraine, a Sovereign and Independent State. [In lieu of the Agreement for Russia to rebuilt the Donbas area and the Crimea as a tourist resort, the current financial litigation between Ukraine and Russia–reaching beyond a trillion US dollars already to include the theft of the Crimea Peninsula, and now the Donbas area, can be reversed]. The Crimea and the Donbas area remain as part of the Republic of Ukraine, but as Autonomous and Special Administrative Oblasts of Ukraine. Additionally, it may be proposed that all taxes gathered within these regions remain in these regions as payment to the upgrading and restructuring of their diverse infrastructures. Each region (including the Crimea) would have it’s own Autonomous Government and Legislation as well as Judicial system separate from that of either Ukraine or Russia but with the best elements of each system as adapted and agreed upon by the private citizens of each individual Oblast. Russian troops would be converted to a Police action only, no longer to operate as military soldiers within these oblasts but only as ‘visitors’ or ‘guests’ (except for those troops used as ‘Police Action”) as it was originally agreed upon by the Ukrainian and Russian Governments under the Black Sea Fleet Agreement (now annulled). A limit to the number of Russian troops within these oblasts will be mutually agreed upon as it was with Germany after WWI in the Rhineland.

    So, why, you ask, would Putin agree to this International Arrangement?! The answer should appear rather obvious: Russia is currently embarking on a no-win scenario as it invades Ukraine (because, as some people have argued, Putin is riding on a wild tiger from which he cannot descend?). For Putin to remain in Crimea, and in the Donbas area (Luhansk and Donetsk) is a clear victory in the eyes of his followers, the Russian peoples. For 35 years, Russia can rebuild Crimea and the Donbas areas, as the economic sanctions can be lifted, France can sell their MIstral helicopter ships to Russia, and business can resume as normal. Everyone can praise Putin for assuming the task of rebuilding these three oblasts (under the terms of the Lease Agreement) and Putin’s image and reputation can gradually be restored to that of a demi-god among his own people. His popularity will jump up to 100% and he can be praised by the West and East alike (over time?!) as he honors the terms of this mutually-advantageous Lease Agreement.

    Now, for Ukraine there are added advantages as well: The conflict immediately ceases. War reparations commence. There is peace and stability restored. But most of all, Putin stops his aggressive stance and focuses on only these three oblasts. As it is, Putin has already bitten off more than he can chew which, arguably, may lead to the complete collapse and downfall of his regime should he stay the course and not know when to quit.

    (No doubt, Putin would continue to take over the oblasts of Zaporozhye and Khersonska so that he can have complete dominion of the Azov Sea on all sides! as well as a direct link from the Crimea to Russia via the 4 oblasts of Khersonska, Zaporozhye, Donetska, and Luhanska! Such a maneuver would spell ruin for the Ukrainian Navy to say the very least!

    The solution I propose is simple but it is admittedly not at all easy. But this compromise over-all does have its points of victory for both sides if thought through carefully and if honored and observed by Russia. Putin most likely will not be around 35 years from now, so with a new generation in power (the passing of the current Soviet-style regime), Ukraine may buy the time it needs to restore its military prowess (with the help of the West) and who knows? perhaps to even restore it’s nuclear capabilities?! These are issues beyond the scope of this present article, but issues that warrant reflection, to say the least.

    To fail to consider this option as the preferred option of compromise for both Ukraine and Russia will spell CATASTROPHE (in capital letters!) for both sides. So many more lives will be lost, so much more destruction will take place, and so much more pain and grief, unrest and atrocities will continue to spread unless a genuine Agreement for Cease Fire is made, one that has teeth in it.

    It is my firm belief that this proposal (which is far from perfect as described above) may very well work (or a variation of it?!) for peace to be restored for all sides, and for victory to be claimed as well for both sides.

    Russia claims that it wishes to negotiate via it’s puppet terrorists in the Donbas. Well, let us negotiate. Ukraine has an excellent position to leverage a complete cessation to the conflict without losing either the Donbas or the Crimea! If Ukraine uses this leverage it has, by way of the Lease Agreement I propose, both sides can lick their wounds and cry: “Victory!”.

    Then, and perhaps only then, can both sides claim that they have stated the truth and then and perhaps only then will both sides actually be correct in that presumption: For they both will have been (in their own way): ‘victorious’!

  • Brent

    For a “PHD”, you are quite naive

    1) The reason the majority of ethnic Ukrainians speak Russian is that it was forced on them during Soviet times. The Ukrainian language had to go underground because it was prohibited in education and public services. Even the Ukrainian Orthodox Church and Greek Catholic churches were restricted at the favor of the Russian Orthodox Church. “Who knows, who really cares”? Clearly not you, but maybe 40 million plus Ukrainians care. Even many ethnic Russians in Ukraine do not want to live under Putin’s boot heel. The whole issue of “protecting Russian speakers” was a ruse created by Putin to justify his annexation of Crimea and his invasion into Donbass. It’s sad anyone still believes this lie or lends it any credibility.

    2) You want to have an agreement written up and expect Putin to abide by it. Seriously? Have you not heard of how he does not abide by or respect any agreements such as the “Budapest memorandum”, or the sovereignty of other nations like the Baltic countries, Moldova or Georgia?

    >he has openly declared many times that Kharkiv, Dnepropetrovsk, Zaporozhe, Mykolaiv,Kherson and Odessa all constitute his fabled “Novorossiya”. You going to go wag your finger at him like Obama and Merkl when he moves Russian troops into those oblasts on some some other Russian manufactured crisis like in Crimea or Donbass? The Russian troops were some of the first in both regions (go back and read some of the articles about how the takeover of government buildings went down in Donetsk, Horlivak, Sloviansk and Lugansk. Those were Russian troops that were first in followed by the local hired thugs. “Strelkov”/Girkin and many of the other Russian citizens leaders have admitted their involvement in Crimea AND Donbass, yet fools like you seem to believe this is some home grown rebellion. “Strelkov” lamented many times they could not get more than 1,000 local citizens to join up to the rebel forces. 58% of both the Lugansk and Donetsk oblasts are ethnic Ukainians. Shouldn’t they have a say in which country they want to be part of? The terrorists DPR and LPR regimes do not even control more than 50% of these regions. Are you promoting Ukraine abandon them? Only 54% of Crimeans are ethnic Russians yet we’re supposed to believe 90% wanted to join Russia. The problem is too many ‘uninvolved’ countries want a say in deciding Ukraine’s sovereignty and future. Ask Georgia how much they appreciate Sarkozy selling them out for peace in 2008?

    3) You really love promoting a ‘lease agreement’ between Ukraine and Russia that will expire sometimes in the future and we ‘Putin wont’ live forever’.
    WTF?!?!?!
    >Ukraine already had a lease agreement for the port of Sevastopol be to used by the Russian fleet. How’s that working out, Skippy?
    >so Putin gets to let his Russian troops that are illegally stationed in Ukrainian territory ‘until he dies’, continue to commit kidnapping, extortion, theft, murder, transferring any dissidents to Russian courts for show trials? Do me a favor and look up the cases of Oleg Sentsov, Nadia Savchenko, Mustafa Zhemilev, Refat Chubarov, Vladimir Rybak, and Iryna Dovhan.. Are they and their families supposed to ‘wait until Putin dies’? You need to understand how badly residents of Crimea and Donbass have been treated, and how their human rights have been violated.

    4) It’s sad how those like yourself have already forgotten all about the 298 innocent victims shot out of the sky by Russian sponsored terrorists who even bragged about it until the ‘whoops’ moment hit them. That was a Russian missile system given to and operated by untrained terrorists. Or are you one of the naive who still believe a Su 25 (ground attack air craft with a ceiling of 17,000 feet and slower speed than a civilian airliner) was responsible?

    5) How’s the latest ceasefire working out? Seems Mariupol was getting hit by Russian rockets last night. Yes the same Russia that you think can be negotiated with.

    Opinions like yours are extremely dangerous because they are very naive. You think you can negotiate with Putin. Too many world leaders like are slowly starting to realize he is not trustworthy and will not live up to any agreements he makes. and will even continue to claim Russia is not involved. Yet he wants Russia at the negotiating table to have their say on how a conflict ‘they are not involved in’ gets resolved. Russia also wants to decide how a sovereign Ukraine should change its constitution to a Federal state, and what agreements it can sign with EU and NATO. Yet those such as yourself, Merkl, Hollande and many other apologists think the way to go is to give him the fabled ‘offramp’ (I think we’re past offramp #10 about now) or let him ‘save face’. Really? You want to reward him for annexation of Georgian and Ukrainian territory, and further invasions into sovereign Ukrainian territory of Donbass? When he goes into Estonia, should we nominate him for the Nobel Peace prize? His FSB kidnapped an Estonian officer on Friday and illegally took him back to Russia. More provocations does not equal more offramps.

    Maybe you need to get a more realistic view before you recommend selling out on Ukraine to a terrorist supporting nation like Russia.

    • albertphd

      Thanks for your comments. II have edited my article accordingly, as I see it was not worded carefully enough–and no doubt it needs a dozen or more rewrites, I am sure!).

      Yes, There is a part of me that agrees with you and with the alleged comment made by Julia Tymoshenko (some time ago) that we should simply ‘nuke those bastards!’. But realistically when the hot emotions cool down and reason is restored, we realize that Ukraine does not have nuclear weapons to do so to begin with, and furthermore to use ‘agent orange’ or napalm or even flame-throwers is probably not even on the agenda, although I did hear of a Russian Tank Corps using flame throwers in Ukraine recently (perhaps, a rumor?)?!

      The concept of compromise is really one that is as old as the Bible. For Christian believers it may be noteworthy what Jesus did say regarding warfare: “Or what king going to make war against another king, sits not down first, and consults whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends an ambassage, and desires conditions of peace.” (Luke 14:31-32)

      My point is simply to keep our options open, Ultimatums such as “surrender or you or I will die!” are okay when all possible negotiations are dissolved. Russia claims (falsely, no doubt!) that it still wishes to negotiate with Ukraine, that it still wishes to have peace restored.

      All I am saying is that we should give PEACE a chance, but we don’t have to be naive about it. Use the leveraging that Ukraine actually does have! Make Putin agree to the Lease Agreement (or something like it?!) or as a last resort do as Tymoshenko suggests: send the devils back to hell!

  • Pdiddy Dduh

    Its because like in Poland and other Eastern European occupied countries you were forced to learn and Russian by the Soviets and Communists. This is a sovereign nation and it should not be carved up. I think that NATO should strike the Russian troops on Ukrainian soil. Russian army is not the bear everyone thinks it is.

  • UKUKRMAN

    KVP?……. anyone care to decode that?
    its what everyone knows needs to be done but doesn’t say