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Here’s One Way Russia and Ukraine Could Go to War

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Here’s One Way Russia and Ukraine Could Go to War

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KYIV, Ukraine — The large buildup of Russian troops near the Ukrainian border is as clear a sign as any that Moscow plans to use military force to achieve its goals if diplomacy fails. But how exactly hostilities might begin has been a guessing game, military analysts say.

One possibility became clearer this week when the second-largest political party in Russia’s parliament, the Communist Party, proposed that Russia recognize two self-declared breakaway states in eastern Ukraine, the people’s republics of Donetsk and Lugansk.

Russian-backed separatists have been fighting the Ukrainian government for eight years, but without official recognition from Moscow. If Russia recognized the states, it could create immediate justification for Russian military intervention.

The proposal took a twisted path on Friday, however. First, the speaker of the lower house of the Russian parliament said it was a “serious and responsible” decision that should be considered. But soon after, the Kremlin frowned on such a move, saying it was important to avoid any provocative moves at a “so tense and sensitive” time.

The two breakaway states claim far more Ukrainian territory than they currently occupy, saying their borders are not today’s de facto frontline, but the administrative borders of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

So if Russia recognized them, they could invite Russia to base troops on their territory to help advance towards their claimed borders. This could disguise a Russian invasion as support for new allies.

The Communist Party’s proposal for states suggested that Russia create “interstate legal relations governing all aspects of cooperation and mutual assistance, including security.” He added that recognition of the separatist zone would be justified to “support the guaranteed security and defense of their people against foreign threats”.

Western diplomats say Moscow is trying to settle the war in eastern Ukraine in return for political concessions from Kiev, including rejection of future NATO membership and a role for political parties and Russian-aligned politicians in the national government.

Analysts say this helps explain why Russia has long been reluctant to recognize states; it would take away the leverage he has over Kyiv to achieve those goals that the more ambiguous conflict has provided.

Here’s One Way Russia and Ukraine Could Go to War

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