Ukraine, Putin dictates the conditions and prepares the sending of soldiers: «Give up the Donbass». Zelensky asks for more weapons

Of Francesco Battistini

Moscow expects a break in diplomatic relations from Kiev and orders the evacuation of its representations in Ukraine. “We will provide all kinds of assistance, including military assistance. If there is a war, we will respect the obligations we have taken, ”says Putin

from our correspondent
KIEV – The force be with you. Not even 24 hours pass e Vladimir Putin returns to the site of the edict. He enters the white room of the Kremlin, anticipates every response from the White House and in his hand he wields the white paper just obtained from his docile deputies of the Duma: after the recognition of the pro-Russian republics, here is the “authorization” – obviously voted unanimously – to use military force outside the Russian borders. Another turning point: the soldiers, sent Monday evening to the Ukrainian Donbass, will therefore be able to stop their uniforms as fake peacemakers and, if necessary, start the real invasion. They will also be allowed to “reach the line of contact” with Ukrainian troops, the very first line. Vladimir Vladimirovic looks at the journalists seated at a distance and in a semicircle, as his zealous collaborators were arranged on Monday evening: «I never said – he explains and together he doesn’t explain – that Russian troops will enter that territory after my meeting here with you. Impossible to predict. It will all depend on the situation that emerges on the pitch ».

Therefore? Now there is an agreement with the republics of Lugansk and Donetsk – it could be extended, some interpret, to the areas of Donbass that are still Ukrainian -, therefore «we will provide all types of assistance, including military assistance. If there is a war, and obviously if it is necessary, we will respect the obligations undertaken ». That it is war, the facts say so. Even away from the front: in Kiev some real estate agencies receive offers to rent apartments left empty until who knows when. Moscow expects a foregone break in diplomatic relations from Kiev and orders the evacuation of what remains of its representations in Ukraine. More: for the separatists of Donetsk and Lugansk, recognition also comes from the pro-Russians of Georgian Ossetia and from Syria of Assadbut meanwhile the world “finally admits” that the 2014 invasion of Crimea was a legitimate annexation, the response to what NATO imposed on Kosovo in 1999. Putin puts salt on a wound that was never sutured: if the West recognized the independence of the Kosovar Albanians from Milosevic’s Serbia, it is his thesis, now do the same with the Russians of the Donbass. And as for Ukraine, the usual list of grievances: renounce NATO, dismantle “the nuclear missiles aimed at us, an unacceptable threat”, accept that “the peace agreements signed in Minsk no longer exist”.

The latest request seems, to the less pessimistic, a tiny opening. Because the documents of Minsk 1 and 2 on the Donbass have long been waste paper also for Kiev, and now that the die has been cast we can perhaps begin to think of a Minsk 3. President Volodymyr Zelensky does not collect, warns that “do not be afraid” of the Russian bear, calls for more weapons to the West, as well as an urgent corridor for EU entry. The Ukrainian leader described him as shocked: in Kiev, in the courtyard of the Defense Ministry, they await him for the solemn funeral of one of the soldiers killed in the Donbass, but Zelensky does not show up. Hugging Natalia, the mother of Captain Anton Sydorov who had three girls and dreamed of a songwriter, there is only the Minister of Defense, Oleksij Reznikov: “His son is a hero – he says -, we will avenge him”. Of her Anton, Natalia has in her hand the mobile phone half destroyed by the mortar and a photo: of when the captain participated with his songs in the talents on TV and sang «thanks to life, which has given me so much».

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