Why Novorossiya Wasn’t Created

This a build upon the ideas in this post. I would like to explore this idea…

There are several reasons:

1) There has likely never been a plan to create Novorossiya in the first place.

Despite the claim that Russia planned to seize all eight South-Eastern regions of Ukraine, that is: Odessa, Nikolaev, Kherson, Dneproperovsk, Zaporozhye, Donetsk, Lugansk, Kharkov, nothing indicates the Kremlin ever had such a plan. What is indicative is that the Russian media have, from the very start of the pro-Russian protests in the South-East, referred to the protesters as “supporters of federalisation”. Hence, if the Kremlin ever had any plans to create Novorossiya, it would have been a federal region within Ukraine. Later in this post, I will explain the logic behind such thinking.

2) The demographics don’t make most of it a Russian land.

As I have pointed out before, the Russian ethnic identification predominates only in the major cities of the Donbass. It is therefore no surprise that outside the Donbass, the intensity of protests was far lower, and as my observation has it, these protests did not bear a separatist character. As far as I can judge, outside Donbass, only the regional administration building in Kharkov was seized by the pro-Russian protesters.

In Kharkov, Dnepropetrovsk, Odessa, the local pro-Russian protesters were mostly Sovoks opposed to the Banderisation of Ukraine, and the illegal usurpation of power by the pro-Western Euromaidan. This crowd was brutalised by local Right Sector street thugs recruited from the ranks of football ultras. Below is a map of the birthplaces of soldiers who died in the military operation against the Donbass. As you can see, Dnepropetrovsk provided most meat for the grinder.

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The people that claim that the Kremlin betrayed Novorossiya want to make us believe that the Kremlin ought to have occupied vast territories for a handful of commies that could not even hold against a bunch of fashy ultras.

3) Novorossiya would be economically unviable being a vast unrecognised territory, and her defence would be difficult. 

Novorossiya would certainly be an internationally unrecognised territory, with all the economic joys that come out of it. For instance, Odessa would die as a port. Every single port of Novorossiya would die, and that’s why I guess no serious effort was ever made to seize Mariupol in Donbass during the war. The occupation of the territory would inevitably create millions of refugees. If you think the war in Donbass created a crisis, imagine that several times over! There are serious issues with economically integrating the rump Donbass territory with Russia, now imagine the same issues but several times larger.

Novorossiya does not have natural borders with Ukraine, which would allow for constant incursions of subversive elements from Ukraine, and artillery shelling the like we see in the Donbass today. I believe that to make Novorossiya secure, invasion, occupation and pacification of the rest of Ukraine would be needed. That is an enormous undertaking for Russia, something that could be hardly justified in 2014.

34 thoughts on “Why Novorossiya Wasn’t Created

  1. I completely agree with your analysis here. Of course, from a Russian perspective, perhaps it would have been better to conquer all of the Donbass and Kharkiv Oblast as well. That way, the Russian-Ukrainian border would have been a bit neater (assuming, of course, that Russia would have subsequently annexed all of these territories).

    I also agree with you that it would have been one hell of a task to fix Novorossiya’s economy after its trade with the rest of Ukraine and Europe would have been cut–especially if Russia would have had to do this while suffering from extremely strong Western sanctions. Novorossiya’s location simply isn’t very useful for Russia. While Kharkiv and the Donbass could have perhaps been integrated into Russia due to their close proximity to Russia, it would have been harder to do for the central and western parts of Novorossiya. I mean, why use Odessa as a port when you can use Rostov instead? Novorossiya is largely separated from the Russian heartland by central Ukraine.

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    1. Russia didn’t go for Novorossiya at all. The separatist territories were helped to survive. And perhaps it was for the better.

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      1. OK. Let me rephrase my question: If Russia would have hypothetically went for more Ukrainian territory in 2014, how much of Novorossiya do you think that Russia should have aimed to capture?

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      2. There is a video out there, where Strelkov says there was not much enthusiasm among people to join his cause when he took Slaviansk. I have personally seen videos of grown healthy men waiting in refugee columns on the Russian border. That’s one factor why say Kharkov did not go over to Russia.

        And the second issue is economics. How much can Russia take on and remain afloat?

        Note also that there was not much enthusiasm among the elites in Crimea to go over to Russia. But Crimea was essential.

        Russia should not have aimed to capture any territory of Novorossiya really in this scheme of things because the territory is not essentially needed.

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  2. What motivated the people of the Donbass (well, some of them) to fight the Ukrainian government later on?

    As for economics, couldn’t Russia have revitalized the industries in the Donbass and in Kharkiv? Also, doesn’t Kharkiv have a lot of educated people? Or would most of these educated people have left if Russia would have taken over Kharkiv?

    As for Crimea, did the elites there prefer to deal with the devil that they know (Ukraine) versus the devil that they don’t know (Russia)?

    Also, was Crimea essential due to the Sevastopol naval base?

    As for not capturing any of Novorossiya, you might very well have a point here. Still, if Russia would have taken Crimea, then that in itself would have likely been enough to ruin Russian-Ukrainian relations for an extremely long time. In turn, this raises the question of whether it would have been best not to capture any Ukrainian territory at all or whether it would have been best for Russia to try capturing some additional Ukrainian territory.

    BTW, due to its huge Russian population, Mariupol might have very well made a very nice addition to the Donbass republics.

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    1. Well, Donbas has a majority that identifies with Russia. Other regions of the South East have people like that but not in sufficient amounts. In the Donbas Ukrainian power collapsed.

      I think most educated people would have left Kharkov should Russia take over. This is what happened in Donetsk.

      Russia does not have the money or will to restore Ukrainian industry.

      Yes, Aksyonov, the current prime minister is from a fringe party that had like 5%. Local bosses were firmly pro-Ukraine, and they had to be dealt with.

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      1. OK; that makes sense.

        As for educated people leaving, did the same happen in Crimea? Or did most of Crimea’s educated people stay?

        As for restoring Ukrainian industry, what about over, say, a 25-year time period?

        Thanks for the information about Aksyonov. BTW, how were the local, pro-Ukrainian bosses in Crimea dealt with?

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      2. Crimea is not an industrial region or the centre of business. Educated people leave that place all the time in search of career. Matter of fact, people leave Crimea in search of education too. Crimea is for the elderly, who like the mild climate, for the agrarians, for fishermen.

        The kind of people that occupy the Kremlin at present do not think in 25 year terms.

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    2. As far as I’m concerned losing Crimea over to Ukraine would have been a major blow to Putin’s image, and relations with Ukraine have been bad ever since the Maidan.

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      1. Not as much as Crimea. People in Moscow in particular are quite irritated by having some unwashed yobs from Donbas take away from their luxury living.

        But the Kremlin policy vis-a-vis Donbas is to have it reintegrate into Ukraine on fédérative or confederative basis, and use to keep Ukraine from joining any Western alliances. So if Kiev proposed such a thing. The Kremlin would gladly give Donbas back to Ukraine.

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  3. It’s quite a shame that Muscovites are unwilling to have the Russian government spend money to help the people of the Donbass. After all, the Donbass rebellion was done in the hope of giving the people of the Donbass a better life through closer ties and possibly union with Russia.

    As for the official Kremlin policy, Yes, I’m well-aware of this. However, I really don’t see the incentive for Ukraine to actually agree to this. I mean, US states don’t have that kind of veto power and they’re pretty autonomous in other respects. If the choice is being free and losing one of your arms or legs and being a hostage but being physically intact, then I suspect that a lot of people are going to choose the first option. If I was a Ukrainian, I’d certainly prefer to give up the Donbass than to give up on Ukraine’s EU ambitions. (Of course, Ukraine is probably unlikely to become an EU member for a long time due to its corruption issues, but that’s a separate problem.)

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    1. Even if Ukraine hanged all the corrupt officials and businessmen tomorrow, EU would be very far off.

      Also, the ideology of many in Russia and Ukraine is full belly. And in this respect, Muscovites are not different from many wealthy residents of Donetsk, who fled to Kiev. The Donbass rebellion was a rebellion of the lower classes.

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  4. In addition, here’s another question for you: Had Yanukovych somehow managed to defuse the situation in 2013-2014, got Ukraine to join the Eurasian Union, and then lost the next Ukrainian elections to the pro-Western opposition who would have subsequently began pulling Ukraine out of the Eurasian Union, do you think that a separatist rebellion would have still broken out in eastern Ukraine and/or southern Ukraine?

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    1. Probably not, but it is unlikely the pro-Western position would have been too strong in that case. It ought to be remembered that Yanukovych himself pursued Association with the EU, and chickened out at the last minute.

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      1. Why would the pro-Western position have not been too strong in such a case?

        Also, Yes, I’m well-aware of Yanukovych’s initial pro-EU orientation. One wonders whether it would have been best for the EU to give him the money that he asked for so that he would have signed the Association Agreement in November 2013. That way, the War in the Donbass would have been avoided–as would the Maidan Revolution.

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      2. Because in the scenario you brought forward, there wouldn’t have been a Maidan or Maidan victory. And that would mean some of the oligarchs would be pro-Russiab.

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  5. Are these oligarchs actually going to be able to use their influence to prevent Ukraine from leaving the Eurasian Union in this scenario, though?

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      1. Why wouldn’t the West have wanted Ukraine to leave the Eurasian Union in this scenario, though?

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  6. What has always been Western policy? I’m pretty sure that it *wasn’t* a goal of Western policy to have Ukraine create a new union with Russia–was it?

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      1. Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying here.

        I think that one or both of us previously misunderstood what the other one was saying here.

        BTW, off-topic, but how successful do you think that a Russian amphibious invasion of Odessa and the Budjak would have been in 2014?

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  7. You mean like the Nazi German invasion of Crete back in 1941? AFAIK, that invasion was also airborne.

    Also, another question–do you think that Crimea and the Kuban will eventually become Russia’s version of Florida?

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    1. If they build several theme parks, perhaps. But I think they are aiming to become a more expensive and shittier version of Turkish riviera. So I guess not…

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