Donbas Recognition? No, Thanks
* Note: This was written just before the beginning of the invasion and so contains some inaccuracies about the direction taken by Putin and the Russian regime. We’ve published the piece despite this because the point still stands: war is good for no one.

For eight years, Russian state propaganda was always saying that Ukraine and its citizens were our enemies. By implying that all Ukrainians are neo-Nazis and pigs, common people of both countries got divided by the elites. I have some friends from Ukraine, mostly we share the same anti-fascist, anti-capitalist, and anti-racist views. And why the hell should we fight and hate each other? I only feel solidarity and warmth towards them, while the Russian state media and even people I know personally are trying to make me feel the opposite. 

It’s not only a problem with the propaganda of my own country. There is also Western propaganda trying to misinform common people; sometimes it is as provocative as Russian media. This is crazy. Everyone is trying to make people choose: you can have Western imperialism or Russian imperialism expanding its borders. And both options are awful. Why does anybody have to choose evil over evil? They are two geopolitical forces that are trying to control common people who suffer from the Russo-Ukrainian War. For these eight years, people from both sides of the conflict have been dying because Russia started its aggression by annexing the Crimean peninsula and intervening in the Donbas region. People are left with no choice. It is about two states that want to take care of the Donbas region, while the people who live there can’t be independent from any of the imperialist forces.

Before Putin’s recognition of Donetsk and Luhansk, almost everybody in Russia (and, as I saw, the international community was too) felt that such aggression would be the start of World War III. And after, we felt annihilated, humiliated even. All the people that opposed the war and Putin’s regime decisions lost hope immediately. Now we have it: political elites decided that we should continue this almost decade-long conflict by recognizing Donetsk and Luhansk as “independent” regions. And it is quite obvious that this is a step towards the further annexation of these territories by Russia. After the Crimean crisis and repressions against the opposition, they will have more possibilities to do that.

The elites even staged a spectacle to make their desires seem more legitimate—the meeting of the Security Council. They simply agreed together in advance what to decide, but what is more surprising is that some of them even needed some more. Director of Foreign Intelligence Sergey Naryshkin actually supported the entry of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions to Russia but got mocked by Putin because he almost made their plans clear. It was the moment when the curtain almost fell.

The Russian regime will continue playing dirty. Quite possibly they will stage a “referendum” on the lands of Donbas. There was already one in the Donetsk region in 2014, but not even a Kremlin recognized the referendum results. At the time when this will be published, Russian forces will officially enter Donbas. And Moscow will try to set up the vote.* Just like the Crimean referendum of 2014. But who knows, maybe they will find another option and be even more “democratic” and “legit.” 

The consequences

I still remember how it went during the Crimean crisis. Me, a regular schoolboy, saw the prices for electronics and food go two times higher. I never knew what sanctions were until that moment. I was really surprised by the economic changes while every Russian was celebrating something supposedly patriotic and unifying. It was such a small victory over the Western world, and I didn’t understand why we should celebrate such changes. 

After the annexation of Crimea, militaristic and xenophobic attitudes increased within society. It was also the moment when Putin’s regime became stronger, letting the dictatorship live longer because of the national, imperialistic pride overlapping a people’s dissatisfaction with the deepening economic crisis and increasing inequality. And now the regime wants to try again to gain more public support, giving the people somewhat a compromise: maybe you hate us for all the internal problems, but we will let you at least be happy about another imperialistic victory.” 

It’s very unlikely that the people would sell their dissatisfaction with daily life for war achievements. Life conditions got even worse after eight years, people got tired of eternally resigning Putin, his regime corruption and how the ruling class stopped caring about people’s demands. The public wants the money to flow into education and healthcare systems, but in past years the government was cutting them to give more billions to the army and police. For one sphere to make new missiles and the second to fund those who torture you inside police stations or beat you up at peaceful protests. 

This could be fairer if the oligarchs and officials paid for the ongoing war, but it is going to be us—common people, who sometimes can’t even afford basic needs just to continue living and not to survive. We are going to pay for another militarization, world isolation, and worsening economic crisis. We are going to pay for the restoration of the destroyed infrastructure in the Donbas region. And no doubt we are not going to benefit from the Donetsk and Luhansk regions recognition or further annexation. 

Right now, we should all be aware of the Kremlin’s aggression. Putin’s dictatorship has no limits, the ruling class don’t mind about dead civilians or people beyond them. Everything can happen these days, but nothing positive. And these years will be difficult. As a people we should take care of each other, as a global community and especially as anarchists we can’t ignore what is going on. Solidarity is the weapon of the people, and it is stronger than any tank or missile. Against all borders, against all empires, against all wars! Do not be silent. Take action.

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