Russia Signs Trade Agreement With Eastern Ukraine

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Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a recent decree to provide easier trade access to and from Russia for Ukraine’s eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.  In the agreement, Russia will lift restrictions on imports and exports of goods between Russia and parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions currently held by Russian separatists. The Kremlin justified the move by citing the repercussions of the economic blockade between the separatist-held areas and the rest of Ukraine, as well as the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Eastern Ukraine, which is largely a pro-Russian region, has suffered extensively during the Russia-Ukraine conflict. The area has been – as was Crimea before it – long been neglected by pro-EU Ukranian politicians in Kiev due to the residential population having pro-Russian tendencies. Ukrainian internal investment has instead been directed to non-Russian areas of the country, which has been allowed to develop and ultimately led to what essentially amounts to a civil war within the country between pro-Kiev and pro-Moscow factions. This has resulted in a conflict like that the United Kingdom faced in Northern Ireland during the 1970’s and 1980’s

 

Rodion Miroshnik, a separatist representative in Luhansk,  hailed the move as a “serious step toward integration with Russia,” while Donetsk separatist leader Denis Pushilin spoke of an “important step in support.” Kiev, somewhat predictably has condemned the move as attempts by Moscow to further destabilize the region, however it was also responsible for cutting off supply chains to Luhansk and Donestsk earlier in the conflict.

A settlement for the current Ukraine conflict would be the approved integration of Luhansk and Donetsk into Russia and agreements from NATO to keep rocket weapons systems beyond a ten-minute flight time to Russia, in return for Moscow pulling back troops on Ukraine’s border.

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