Elections in Donbass: adding fuel to the fire?
In the self-proclaimed pro-Russian people's republics of Donetsk and Luhansk new leaders and parliaments were elected on Sunday - for the second time since 2014 and despite the fact that the Minsk Protocol stipulates that local elections in these areas must take place according to Ukrainian law. Observers ask whether the elections, which are not recognised by the West and Kiev, will escalate the conflict in Donbass.
On 11 November of all days
Lietuvos žinios finds it noteworthy that the elections in Donbass took place on the same day as the international commemoration of the end of the First World War in France:
“Among the guests at the commemorative ceremony was Russia's president Vladimir Putin, under whose leadership the war in Donbass rages. While the leaders talked about preventing new wars, the bloodshed continued in Donbass and Ukrainian soldiers died. ... In Donezk and Lugansk the Moscow-backed separatists elected the leaders chosen by the Kremlin. It's clear that these 'elections' are a further step towards an escalation of the war in Donbass in which already more than ten thousand people have died. Is the date a coincidence, or is Putin giving Europe a slap in the face?”
No progress until elections in Ukraine are over
Foreign policy commentator Maxim Jussin takes a different view in Kommersant:
“I believe an escalation is unlikely. It's hard to imagine that relations between Moscow and Kiev could deteriorate further - they've already reached rock-bottom. Kiev's reaction was predictable. It's clear that for Kiev these elections are unacceptable. ... So what has changed now? By and large nothing, because it's clear that the peace process in Donbass, which had hardly advanced anyway, will be put on hold next year. First of all the election cycle in Ukraine, where a presidential election takes place in March and parliamentary elections in the autumn, must come to an end. Only after that is there a chance of any political decisions being made.”
Festering, infectious sore
The EU must not get used to the injustice in eastern Ukraine, El País warns:
“The simulated elections in the areas of Ukraine controlled by pro-Russian separatists won't resolve anything in the self-proclaimed 'people's republics'. ... For most of the countries in the EU, Donbass is a remote place that they prefer to ignore. European diplomats limit themselves to repeating that the agreement signed on 12 February 2015 in Minsk must be adhered to, without reflecting on how they can contribute to this. The wound of Donbass is festering and infecting all of us. And in the name of the values we share, no European country can afford to ignore millions of people as if their fate as hostages of geopolitics had nothing to do with us.”