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Iran Press TV

Pro-Russians announce new state in east Ukraine

Iran Press TV

Tue Jul 18, 2017 12:5PM

Pro-Russian forces in eastern Ukrainian territories have announced the creation of a new state, further complicating efforts to put an end to a conflict that has killed more than 10,000 people.

Leader of the so-called Donetsk People's Republic Alexander Zakharchenko said Tuesday that the region, along with a similar republic in neighboring Luhansk province and representatives of other Ukrainian regions would form a state called Malorossiya.

"We, representatives of the regions of the former Ukraine, excluding Crimea, proclaim the creation of a new state which is a successor to Ukraine," Zakharchenko told Russia's Tass news agency, adding, "We believe that the Ukrainian state as it was cannot be restored."

He added that people in Malorossiya would later have the chance to vote on a new constitution. Malorossiya was the term used by the Russian Empire to identify most of the areas which are currently part of Ukraine.

The announcement comes just a day before a new round of talks on the Ukrainian conflict in Minsk. The Belarusian capital has hosted several high-profile meetings over the past years to resolve the crisis which started in late 2014 when some deep political developments in Kiev led to the rise of a pro-Western government at the expense of a Russia-backed one. Leaders of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine reached a peace agreement in Minsk in February 2015. The deal, which managed to reduce hostilities on the ground, stipulated that pro-Russians give back territories they had captured in return for wider autonomy and rights for local elections.

Senior leaders from Donetsk said the creation of a new state was no violation of the Minsk II accords. People in Luhansk, however, voiced reservations and said they were still committed to the peace agreement.

The creation of Malorossiya, if really materialize, would be seen as a major victory for Russia and a blow to West's efforts for maintaining the integrity of Ukraine following the 2014 change of regime. Ukraine's Crimea, a peninsula on the Black Sea, decided to rejoin Russia after a referendum held that year. Moscow, however, stopped short of endorsing a similar move for the eastern Ukrainian regions. The US and allies in Europe imposed rounds of economic and military sanctions on Russia over the so-called Crimea annexation and continue to blame Moscow for the conflict in Donetsk and Luhansk. Russia denies allegations of providing funds and weapons to militants, but insists that it would intervene militarily if Kiev tries to suppress the ethnic Russian population in the industrial region.

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