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War in Ukraine: towards a partition of the country like in Korea?

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More than a month after the start of the war in Ukraine, Russia said on Sunday that it wanted to focus on “liberating Donbass”, a region in the east of the country controlled since 2014 by pro-Russian separatists. Ukraine fears to see the country split as was the case of Korea.

Ukraine’s military intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov said on Sunday that “after failing to take kyiv and overthrow the Ukrainian government,” Moscow “could impose a dividing line between the occupied and unoccupied regions of our country, ( in) an attempt” to institute a Korean-style separation. “I don’t know why, I’m sure it will,” he added, without giving details of a possible date.

As a reminder, Korea was separated in 1945 at the end of the Second World War. The USSR and the United States, going from allies to rivals, shared the world. This was the case of Korea, occupied by Japan, which was therefore divided in the 38and parallel, with the Soviet army in the northern part, and the American army in the south.

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Referendum in Donbass on joining Russia

In the pro-Russian separatist territories of Ukraine, the question of a referendum to join Russia is increasingly present. Leonid Passetchnik, leader of the Lugansk territory, whose independence Russia has recognized, said: “I think that in the near future a referendum will be held on the territory of the (self-proclaimed Lugansk) republic, during which the people will exercise their absolute constitutional right and express their opinion on joining the Russian Federation.”

However, the Ukrainian authorities are not at all inclined to recognize the legitimacy of possible referendums in occupied territories such as Lugansk and Donetsk. “All false referendums in the temporarily occupied territories are null and void and will have no legitimacy,” reacted Oleg Nikolenko, spokesman for the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on social networks. The latter recalled that the international community would certainly not recognize these new borders, and that Russia could then be even more isolated than it already is.

Mariupol: the dramatic humanitarian situation

Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, however declared this Sunday that he was ready to study the question of the “neutrality” of his country on the international level, within the framework of the negotiations with Russia. This is part of Vladimir Putin’s demands to put an end to the invasion of Ukraine, he who fears to see this border country getting closer to NATO and the European Union.

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