Russia’s attempts to bring separatist movements to international platforms threaten EU – think tank

21:50, 27 January 2020

The experts explain far-reaching, and troubling, intentions behind the efforts.

Russia is trying to set a precedent of allowing access of representatives of unrecognized states to various international platforms. If the plan succeeds, separatist movements around the world, especially in Europe, will be given a free hand to lay claim to participation in any international platform, and subjectivity in foreign policy, IGTDS think tank reports.

Ulrich Oehme, a Russian lobbyist in the Bundestag, launched an initiative at the Council of Europe aimed to set up talks between the unrecognized “republics” of Ukraine’s Donbas and the country’s central government in Kyiv, as well as to give the de facto Russian-controlled Donetsk and Lugansk the opportunity to voice their position at the Council of Europe. The PACE delegate believes that a very important participant – “certain areas” of Donetsk and Lugansk regions – is lacking in the Normandy format of talks which now involves valid states – Germany, France, Russia, and Ukraine.

An initiative to bring the unrecognized entities into talks was also discussed within the Alternative for Germany (AfD) faction, widely supported by Russia. Ulrich Oehme says he intends to engage more Bundestag and PACE members on the initiative. The point is, the think tank underlines, that the initiative was never conceived by the AfD deputy.

In fact, he has voiced and is now promoting the Kremlin’s strategy to legitimize occupied and unrecognized territories. Oehme is likely to be oblivious to the fact that he is being exploited, although the level of his Russia contacts and ties suggests a possibility of him acting at Russia’s direct request, the analysts say.

Sources in Ukrainian diplomatic circles in the United States and Canada have told IGTDS this approach will give a chance of presenting Russian puppet regimes in the east of Ukraine as independent political actors and shift public perception of war in Ukraine to the level of an “internal conflict”. This will enable Russia to steer clear of the charges of occupying parts of Ukraine and then channel similar rhetoric to other territories occupied by Russia, such as Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Transnistria.

Transnistria (Moldova)

Over the past five years, Moscow has been pro-actively and openly supporting separatist regimes in Europe, Africa, and Americas, providing them with media platforms in Russia. The Kremlin believes the effort to legitimize self-styled “republics” as independent actors will pave way for Russia to get sanctions lifted and set a precedent where further possible acts of aggression against neighboring countries, like Belarus, or a further military expansion in Ukraine, will be considered in the scope of internal conflicts boiling within those countries’ borders.

However, in their comments to IGTS, European security and defense experts, including from  France, Spain, Romania, and Italy, voiced concerns that such strategy would allow Russia to influence the European policy more effectively through bringing separatist movements to international platforms and giving them weight in EU, for example, those in Catalonia or Corsica.

Therefore, strategic plans voiced by Ulrich Oehme are obviously meant to create a fragmentation mechanism for the Western European states, Africa and Americas, by exploiting international and regional organizations, rather than just targeting Ukraine. As soon as the separatist movements get their say at such organizations as the PACE, the Council of Europe, or the United Nations and to convey “their own opinions”, this will set a precedent where such movements and groups will be empowered to put pressure on sovereign governments, while third parties will get wider opportunities to destabilize democracies using hybrid tools.

For example, Moscow may retry to destabilize the situation in Romania by bringing the so-called “political activists” representing the Székely Land, territory inhabited by the Hungarian minority to the regional platforms at the PACE and the Council of Europe.

The Kremlin may also test scenarios of internal conflicts within NATO member states by setting introductory notes hampering the Alliance (or the EU) forces’ efforts to resolve the issue and raising doubts about the effectiveness of major security institutions in the region and across the world.

© UNIAN 2020


  1. I believe this is an accurate and well thought out piece. Putin knows he can’t take over the world militarily, but don’t tell the Moskali that voted for him. So, he is left with “hybrid” or trying to destroy nations from within. It doesn’t matter if it is the US elections or a wedding party in Zimbabwe, he will try to sow dissent, discontent, dismay and discord.

  2. AfD are a bunch of nazi filth that promote the ‘internal conflict’ kremkrapp. This completes the circle: German far right, centre right and centre left parties are all putinists. As far as I can see the only party in Germany opposed to putler is the Greens. Which is weird, because green/environmental/climate activist parties worldwide are Marxists that tend to support putler.

      • Well, we’re still waiting for a major (or even minor) party or politician that condemns equally izlamofascism and putinazi fascism. Still no sign of even one. Putler’s got the anti-muzloids (Orban etc) as well as the pro-muzloid faction (Macron/Merkel).
        Orban is a very curious case. In 2008 he was highly critical of Russia’s invasion of Georgia and rightly compared it to 1956. For speaking this simple truth he was aggressively insulted by the Russians and was on the receiving end of the now popular pejorative for anyone opposed to Russian aggression : ‘Russiaphobe’. In the 2008 invasion, the town of Gori was occupied for 5 days and sacked : people tortured and killed and property deliberately destroyed. There is a famous photograph of a blood soaked elderly woman outside the ruins of her home. This turned out to be a dress rehearsal for the much larger scale invasion of another weak country during a time of confusion: Ukraine. Yet astonishingly Orban has become a putin ally and does everything he can to oppose Georgia and Ukraine’s membership of Nato: sadly being pretty much the one thing that will protect them from putinazi savagery. Putin is well known for buying influence in Europe (eg Gerhard Schroder) and many, many others) or could that other standby, “kompromat” be involved? Either way it is simply not consistent to be relaxed about Russian invasion and occupation of sovereign territory in Europe, yet opposed to Islamic invasion by stealth. Russia has managed to murder far more innocent Christians in Europe this century than AQ/isis combined, yet there is still no senior politician or political party that will equally condemn izlamofascism and Russiofascism. This has got to be the most disturbing issue of this century.
        The izlamofascists only have to wait for demographics to do their job (in Britain, muzloid women have produced 6 kids by age 30, whereas the national average is 1.6 throughout the woman’s lifetime), whilst putler is free to continue his task of creating more and more emasculated putlerstan crypto-satellites.

        • The only solution is to either deport them muslims or create townships where they can rot without access to the civilized rest. About Orban, i think he is playing his own game, opposing and supporting Putin, depending on what he considers beneficial to him. He wants control of hungarians in Ukraine, that’s why he acts in such a strange way.

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