Lugansk Leadership Change: Connecting Novorossiya?


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Our final topic, picked by you, dear listeners, earlier in a poll on our Facebook page, is “Lugansk Leadership Change: Connecting Novorossiya?”, focusing on how the latest political developments in Lugansk might make the Novorossiya project geopolitically possible.

The swift leadership change in the self-declared Lugansk People’s Republic has raised hopes among some that it could unite with its sister statelet of Donetsk in finally setting the basis for Novorossiya. Although Igor Plotnitsky formally resigned because of “health reasons”, credible reports have claimed that he was pressured to because of a so-called “coup” by Interior Minister Igor Kornet, with the end result being that Minister of State Security Leonid Pasechnik is now temporarily leading the republic. While a pivotal news event in and of itself because of what it suggests about the internal stability of the less talked about of Ukraine’s two post-coup breakaway republics, it could also have geopolitical implications in altering the course of the civil war in the event that Lugansk merges with Donetsk, which is what some analysts have been speculating.

This isn’t entirely wishful thinking on their part either, since it’s long been recognized that some actors in the Ukrainian Civil War have a long-term vision of recreating the imperial-era administrative unit of “Novorossiya” on the territory of modern-day eastern and southern Ukraine, with Donetsk and Lugansk forming the core of this construction. In fact, the leadership change in Lugansk might provide an opportunity for this, as can be seen from the latest statements from Denis Pushilin, Chairman of the People’s Soviet of the Donetsk People’s Republic. He recently said — quote — “In general, the unification is possible. This requires an optimal moment in time. To my mind, it’s much easier and more effective to solve many issues with a single leadership present” — end quote — though Dmitry Khoroshilov, deputy head of the Lugansk People’s Council, was much more cautious.

He remarked that the Minsk Agreements were signed between the two self-declared republics and Kiev, and that the union of the first two parties could immediately draw into question the very legality of the accord itself, thus providing Ukraine with a pretext to formally abandon its already neglected responsibilities. Moreover, Kiev could resort to subterfuge to prevent Novorossiya from arising, including efforts to turn the elite in both republics against one another, so while the Lugansk leadership change does indeed raise some hope that the entities might finally unite, one shouldn’t lose sight of the formidable challenges that undoubtedly remain.

Jafe Arnold, Special Editor of Fort Russ, founder of Eurasianist Internet Archive, and an analyst for the Center for Syncretic Studies, and Miquel Puertas, Lecturer and blogger from Barcelona working at Donetsk National Technical University, commented on the issue.

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