By Andrey Babitsky
Translated by Ollie Richardson and Angelina Siard
cross posted with

So, it is clear that the mentioning of the topic of a referendum by Vladimir Putin – and the proposal, judging by the fact that Washington already had the time to reject it, was indeed made – is a well thought over trap that Washington fell for, even without assuming that such a thing in general is possible. The sense of a plebiscite in relation to the intra-Ukrainian crisis is to try to stop military operations, having found out how the population of Donbass sees its future and what options of establishing its own destiny they consider to be acceptable.

This indeed could be discussed. For example, the results of any referendum do not necessarily have to be recognised as legally binding. It is easy to imagine there being an agreement on a poll being equated to sociological research, and that the scheme of the autonomisation of the region being developed on the basis of the obtained data about the unwillingness of Donbass to come back into the structure of Ukraine. I.e., wherever you look, you see the same option drawn everywhere – the Minsk Agreements, which indeed have no alternative. Vladimir Putin is absolutely right about this. Under no circumstances will it be possible to do something with these republics without the opinion of the inhabitants of the two people’s republics. Regardless of how much lethal iron Kiev would drop on the land that has been tormented by four years of war.

But Washington, via the lips of the representative of the National Security Council of the White House Garrett Marquis, already refused to discuss the initiative of the Russian president, and Kiev even more so fell into another catatonic fit as soon as it learned about the proposal made by Putin. The Ukrainian authorities continue to show to all corners of the world that it operates not with human interests, but exclusively with notions of property ownership on territory that is thought of as an abstract allotment. This also concerns Crimea, because the demands to return it permanently ignore the results of the Crimean referendum, and in principle the probability of most of the inhabitants of the peninsula being categorically against returning to Ukrainian jurisdiction. And their approach in relation to Donbass is the same. Whatever the inhabitants of the region may think, it must by hook or crook be “reintegrated”, as is said by Kiev.

Putin’s proposal, if to try to translate it into usual human language, is a reminder that Donbass mustn’t be considered simply as a piece of land that appeared to be in someone’s artful hands. People live on this land who, according to all democratic rules and norms, have an inaliennable right to decide their destiny. Anyway, there is a need to talk and reach an agreement with them, even if their opinion of the Ukrainian regime displeases someone. It’s as if Vladimir Putin says: “yes, we remember that you didn’t recognise the results of the referendum in Crimea”, having referred to the fact that whilst it was taking place no international observers were present. “This time everything will be as you so desire. Question people yourself, and on the basis of the received results we will start looking for ways to resolve the conflict”.

The idea of a referendum itself doesn’t assume any radical schemes of the repartition or dismemberment of Ukraine. It simply gives the chance to be convinced that the population of Donbass acts on its own, and not imposed from the outside will, defending with weapons in their hands the right not to be reconciled with nationalism, the desire of one ethnic group to dominate within the Ukrainian State, and discrimination against the Russian language and culture that is native for all this rather big territory.

The refusal of Washington to discuss this subject is understandable. It is absolutely obvious for the Americans that the Donbass separatism and its aspiration by all means to be separate from Ukraine is a uncancelable reality that should be reckoned with, but there is no strong desire to so. After any referendum – even if it will be given the status of an opinion poll – the existence of this reality will be documented and forcedly recognised. And then it will again be necessary to taxi to the Minsk process, within the framework of which Donbass and its inhabitants receive the political subjectivity denied by Kiev.

The fact that the White House doesn’t wish to use that democratic tool that is considered universal and obligatory whilst trying to solve any public disputes in the world – where the priority of the rights and freedoms of the person is proclaimed – looks awfully nasty. It’s as if they consider Donbass as the storeroom of anachronisms where democratic procedures are inapplicable, although, of course, this is relevant here. The recognised results of the referendum would simply open the road to recognising any – not only in Donbass – separatist aspirations as being justified and subject to satisfaction. And neither Washington, nor Brussels can allow this for many reasons at the same time.

Firstly, they will be obliged to recognise that Transnistria, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and Crimea are not the inspiration of Moscow, which the West has affirmed for many years, but the realisation of the human right to choose a worthy future, free from discrimination. Secondly, the numerous European separatists, who won’t fail to raise the Donbass precedent on their shield, also stand in the queue for recognition.

And it is here that the most interesting thing begins. I am already ready to predict in what form the Russian president will start to formulate his pretensions to western “partners” in connection with the refusal to discuss the idea of a referendum. I think that he will softly regret the fact that “colleagues” don’t want to share democracy with Donbass, but verbally they stand for spreading it everywhere. I even see how the head of Russia throws up his hands in bewilderment: “So it means that there are good people who are worthy of a referendum, and there are bad people who don’t deserve one – right?” Such Jesuit trolling can last as long as is desired.

Well, Kiev in all this story again shows its intrinsic attribute – deep-rooted cannibalism. It doesn’t know and doesn’t want to know any other ways of preserving the territorial integrity of Ukraine besides murdering people. It rejects the Minsk Agreements, in which a working, real mechanism of ending military operations is outlined. Employees of the OSCE protected by missionaries of the UN could indeed stand between the parties to the conflict, and in this case guaranteed calm would set in at the frontline. This option is also being rejected. And concerning any referendum – there can’t be any conversation in general. But guys – stubbornly choosing war over and over again, one day you might find out that it is being waged not according to your rules. I think that you will be seriously afflicted.

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