Many people were asking just what the vaguely worded proposition on the ballot in yesterdays referendum in Eastern Ukraine really meant. Some people were speculating that is was the first step in an ongoing political process. Well now we know what it meant to the people holding the election in Donetsk.
The "People's Republic of Donetsk" declared itself an independent country on Monday afternoon, and within two hours of doing so had asked to join Russia. Separatist leader Denis Pushilin told journalists that the self-proclaimed republic would ask Moscow to consider absorbing the region, which borders Russia, into its fold.Russian foreign minister Lavrov issued a statement about the elections prior to the announcement from Donetsk requesting unification with Russia.
But it remains extremely doubtful whether Moscow will carry out a Crimea-style annexation of the region, which together with neighbouring Luhansk held a controversial referendum on independence on Sunday.
According to results announced by the de facto authorities in Donetsk and Luhansk – which also declared independence from Ukraine on Monday – about 90% and 96% respectively voted for state sovereignty. The referendums – which Kiev has dismissed as illegitimate – were hastily organised and marked by numerous violations.
Russia has said it "respects" the results of independence referendums in eastern Ukraine, but has called for dialogue between the government in Kiev and the south-east regions of the country, suggesting that a Crimea-style annexation of the region for Moscow is not on the cards.I haven't been able to find any information about official Russian reaction to the issue of unification. Will Putin decide that respecting the will of the people means agreeing to that request?
This whole situation raises more and more questions while providing few if any answers.