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Putin’s Government in Donbas

In March, the German tabloid Bild published an article based on a secret document that reveals how breakaway areas of eastern Ukraine have come under direct Kremlin control. The revelations cast the ongoing Minsk 2 peace negotiations in a new light, one that illuminates the frustration being expressed by the Ukrainian government.

STANFORD – In March, the German tabloid Bild published an article based on a secret document that reveals how breakaway areas of eastern Ukraine are “being treated as parts of Russia’s sovereign territory.” The revelations cast the ongoing Minsk 2 peace negotiations in a new light, one that illuminates the frustration being expressed by the Ukrainian government.

The document obtained by Bild is a report from an October meeting of Russia’s “Inter-Ministerial Commission for the Provision of Humanitarian Aid for the affected Areas in the Southeast of the Regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.” It describes how the meeting’s attendees did not just focus on humanitarian assistance, but rather served as a sort of shadow government. Working groups cooperating with Russian authorities were set up to manage the region’s finances, economic policies, energy and transportation infrastructure, and trade.

Notably, the meeting took place under the watchful eye of four members of the Russian secret police (FSB) and was chaired by the Russian politician Sergey Nazarov. The titular heads of the Donetsk and Luhansk Peoples’ Republics were not present. Indeed, the only Ukrainian in attendance was a representative of the energy giant DTEK, owned by Rinat Akhmetov, the country’s richest oligarch.

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