The Russian invaders of Europe in Ukraine are flying their flag in Luhansk city. The military occupation of this part of Ukraine by a foreign power is now being publicly marked as such. The pretence of “separatists” or “pro-Russian rebels” has been abandoned. Crimea and part of Donbas are the same: temporarily occupied territory, occupied by Russian Federation.
The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine said this in its daily report of 2 December: “In Luhansk city the SMM observed flags of the Russian Federation placed alongside “LPR” flags for the first time outside certain public buildings. It saw the flags on five buildings used by “LPR” members.”
One of the Kremlin’s proxies, Igor Plotnitsky, has fled to Russia. Plotnitsky is controlled by Putin’s “grey cardinal,” Vladislav Surkov. One of the proxies of the Russian siloviki, Igor Kornet, remains in Luhansk and he’s the one who ordered Russian flags to be flown on public buildings.
Luhansk south of the Siverskyi Donets River remains occupied territory of the Russian Federation. The only thing that has changed is that the fabricated “Luhansk People’s Republic” has even less substance. Russia had been pretending in its propaganda that there were separatists in Donbas, and that Russia was supporting them against the Ukrainian government in Kyiv. But with Russian flags on public buildings in Luhansk, the thin veneer of the “LPR” vanishes away to nothing. The Russian flag is there because it is a Russian-controlled city. Whether they continue to call themselves “LPR” or not, they are Russian soldiers, led by Russian officers, paid, armed and equipped by Russia.
Russian flags in Luhansk city means that the mandate of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine must be abolished, and a new one created. Russia is occupying Luhansk (and Donetsk) and admits this with public display of its flag. The “conflict in Ukraine” is in fact a war and Russia is on one of the sides. As a party to the conflict, Russia can take no part in any OSCE mission. Ukraine can’t participate in the OSCE SMM because there are Ukrainian flags in Stanytsia Luhanska. How can Russia be allowed to participate in the OSCE SMM when there are Russian flags in Luhansk city?
Russian flags in Luhansk city means that the status of Crimea and Donbas is identical. They are both integral territory of Ukraine, they have both been invaded by Russia, and they both are illegally occupied by Russia. It’s irrelevant that Russia says it has annexed one part of Ukraine and has not said it has annexed another part of Ukraine. What’s relevant is that Russia has invaded both parts and puts its flag in both parts. Russia flies its tricolour flag in Simferopol and in Luhansk. The foreign invader has literally planted the flag, and announced to the world its conquest.
The whole notion of the “LPR” and the “DPR” was always a cruel joke, and understood as such by Russians and Ukrainians. What is astonishing is that these fictitious entities were treated as somehow real by Western politicians and by the Western press. Western politicians legitimized the “LPR” and the “DPR” by treating them as parties to the Minsk Agreements. Because Western politicians had no plan to stop Russian aggression (and still don’t) they focussed entirely on the formality of the Minsk Agreements, and needed to project the “LPR” and the “DPR” as real. Uninterested in reporting Russia’s invasion of Europe in Ukraine, the Western press seized on the idea of “separatists” or “pro-Russian rebels” in Donbas – and also on the idea that Crimea had been “annexed” – as an excuse to make Putin’s War a forgotten war.
Russian flags in Luhansk city change everything. The propaganda of Russia, the pretence of Western politicians, and the myopia of Western journalists has fallen away. The reality of Russia’s invasion of Europe in Crimea and Donbas is revealed. It is Ukrainian flags that must be flying in Luhansk and Simferopol and Donetsk. Carrying out a plan for victory over Russia will make that happen.