Petro Poroshenko, the Ukrainian president, has changed his view of the transportation blockade against the pro-Russian held territories of the East, now saying the blockade will stay in place until the rebels return industrial assets to Ukrainian control. The blockade has been initiated by veterans, volunteers, and Ukrainian nationalists who do not want Western Ukraine feeding revenue to those killing their brothers in the Donbass region. The change in Poroshenko’s position likely has to do with the rising importance, power and impact of Ukrainian nationalists on the central government.
For its part, Moscow is condemning the action. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Moscow is watching with concern Ukraine “resolutely and consistently repudiating its own regions, condemning millions to living without social security, banking, medical and legal services,” reports AP.
“It’s unprecedented that a country is consciously undermining its own territorial integrity,” Peskov said of Ukraine, adding that Russia would offer humanitarian assistance to residents of the east.
“Russia is strongly worried, because it doesn’t help to create a favorable atmosphere for implementing the Minsk agreements.”
Igor Plotnitsky, the leader of the Luhansk People’s Republic, one of the rebel-held territories in Donbass, had this to say, “We are sure that such referendum will be held,” he told the Russian state RIA Novosti news agency. “Of course, we will initiate it in due time.”
Russia has recently allowed official government documents from the rebel-held areas to be used in Russia as well as facilitating use of the Russian ruble as the official currency in Donbass. Peskov said there were discussions happening about annexing the East but nothing had been decided yet.