Russia does not need Donbas, while holding it as a bargaining chip in geopolitical games, says Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories Oleksiy Reznikov.
The Kremlin is waging a hybrid war, which implies funding for its mercenaries and militants, as well as powerful information war, the minister told the Ukrainian online news outlet Obozrevatel on March 11.
"Propaganda is heard from every corner, set to brainwash people. We're doing our best so that children from Donbas could study in the [government-]controlled territory, but we have no idea what's going on in their heads. Сrazy ideological brainwashing is underway there. And this is the best weapon, which then in turn pulls the trigger of an actual weapon. It's beneficial for Russia to keep developing the 'sovok' [a colloquial term derived from the word 'Soviet, meaning the Soviet way of life] there, at the same time showing the electorate that such sentiments are allegedly in place in Donbas," he added.
At the same time, Reznikov says he doesn't believe Russia will decide to annex the occupied territories in Donbas since this wouldn't be a feasible move given the devastating economic situation in the region.
Read alsoDonbas war update: Ukraine reports one KIA on March 10"Russia doesn't need Donbas. It's just a bargaining chip in their geopolitics. They want to hand it back it to us, but they're trying to do it on their own terms, not ours. Russians don't perceive the population of Donbas as their own citizens. They've no respect for them. If it's part of the Ukrainian nation, who are they for them? Indeed, many people in Luhansk and Donetsk regions speak Russian, but they're Ukrainians by ethnic composition. Russia doesn't need them, except as a labor force," the minister summed up.