As Marius Laurinavicius, a senior analyst at the Vilnius Institute for Political Analysis says, “The Russians continue to use the tactics of Gebels...”, only now they are using Denis Pushilin for this. Another attempt to impose the old message “Russia is not a party to the conflict against Ukraine” is no longer working, since, despite the official ban on private armies in Russia itself, Moscow is actively using them in “hot spots”; and the East of Ukraine is no exception. RBS-Group, Anti-Terror, Center R, Morgan Security Group, E.N.O.T. Corp., Cossacks, MAP, as well as the largest Wagner PMC are the names of private military formations fighting in the Donbas on the side of the separatists. We are talking about thousands of Russians operating in the region and performing the Kremlin’s tasks. On December 30, 2020, PACE adopted a resolution on the status of the monitoring procedure, which explicitly states that the Russian Federation is a party to the conflict.
The support of the old line of Russian propaganda in the West suggests that the Kremlin has not yet created anything new, and the old methods are no longer relevant. From the very beginning, the Russian Federation talked about a “civil war” in Ukraine and insisted on direct negotiations between Kyiv and Donetsk/Luhansk, as well as on the creation of a federal state in which Ukraine will remain de jure independent, albeit for a short time, since all key country development issues in this case would have to coordinate with the separatists, that is, with Moscow. It is for these reasons that Russia signed the Minsk agreements.
In the East of Ukraine, the Russian Federation has been using tactics that have already been worked out for years; let us recall similar military conflicts in Transnistria, Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The rudiments artificially created by Russia in the former Soviet republics are “zones of influence” through which the Kremlin tries to keep neighboring countries in its sphere of influence. Since Moscow failed to return Ukraine to its sphere of influence militarily, the Kremlin is not giving up its attempts and is trying to solve this “problem” in different ways, and has intensified the massive distribution of Russian passports to the residents of the occupied Donbas, which Denis Pushilin spoke about so zealously in his interview. However, the issuance of passports in the occupied territories mostly is carried out by force or by creating conditions under which it is vital for residents, for example, a trip to the Russian Federation. The purpose of such actions is to turn the local population into “citizens of Russia”, but it failed, since these passports were not recognized by Europe.
The failed plans of Moscow were the main reasons for the recent aggravation of the situation in the East of Ukraine and the demonstration of military force by Russia. NATO's adequate reaction to these events, as well as the Kremlin's understanding of the scale of the increase of military power in Ukraine, shows Putin that the war with Ukraine will not be a simple “walk”, and no Russian propaganda will affect the consolidated position of Europe on the war between Russia and Ukraine.