Separatists in eastern Ukraine claimed Tuesday to have founded a new country – Malorossiya, which means “Little Russia” in English – that they hope will eventually overtake Ukraine.
“We offer Ukrainian citizens a peaceful way out of the difficult situation, without the war,” Alexander Zakharchenko, leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, told reporters during a surprise announcement. “This is our last offer not only to the Ukrainians, but also to all countries that supported the civil war in Donbass.”
The move seems to undermine the faltering Minsk peace agreement, a 2015 deal reached between Russian-backed rebels and the government in Kiev that sought to end the violence in Ukraine’s industrial east. News of the Malorossiya proposal quickly drew condemnation from the international community, with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko calling the Donetsk People’s Republic “a puppet show that broadcasts messages from Russia.”
Notably, both Russia and other separatist movements in eastern Ukraine also distanced themselves from the move, with the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic saying it was not notified ahead of time about the announcement and that discussions about the project were “untimely.”
Despite this, the proclamation of Malorossiya was dubbed a “historic event” by the Donetsk People’s Republic. In a map released by the separatists, all of Ukraine was portrayed as part of Malorossiya with the sole exception of Crimea, the peninsula annexed by Russia in March 2014. Kiev would remain a “historical and cultural center without the capital city status” in the new state, according to the separatists’ statement Tuesday, but Donetsk would be the new political center of Malorossiya.
(c) 2017, The Washington Post · Adam Taylor