Poroshenko signs Donbass reintegration law

President of Ukraine Pyotr Poroshenko signed the law "On the peculiarities of the state policy on ensuring the state sovereignty of Ukraine over the temporarily occupied territories in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions" (about the reintegration of Donbass).

"This law significantly strengthens the legal basis for using the Armed Forces of Ukraine and other law enforcement agencies for the defense of our state. But at the same time it establishes rules for protecting the rights and freedoms of civilians," Poroshenko said, signing the document live on Ukrainian TV channels.

The law enters into force on the day of its publication.

The President of Ukraine also instructed the leadership of the country's power structures to prepare, as soon as possible, proposals for changing the format of the military operation in Donbass.

"In the shortest possible time, I instruct to provide proposals for changing the format," he said, referring to the head of the Defense Ministry Stepan Poltorak and the head of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Viktor Muzhenko.

In addition, the Head of State instructed in the near future to give him for consideration the candidacy of the commander of the security forces joint headquarters, as well as the "strategic plan" for further actions of the Ukrainian army in Donbass. According to him, all "preparatory procedures" should be completed before April 1 of this year.

Poroshenko insists that "neither the spirit nor the letter of this law contradicts the Minsk agreements" and continues to assure that Ukraine will adhere to its international obligations.

Nevertheless, the statements of other figures of his administration indicate the opposite. Thus, the representative of the president in the Verkhovna Rada, Irina Lutsenko, said that Ukraine had received a legal basis for preparing for filing a consolidated complaint with international authorities against Russia as an "aggressor country".

Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) Akexander Turchinov bluntly stated that thanks to the law on the reintegration of Donbass, Kiev would have more opportunities to use the army in Donbass, since in the law Russia "is clearly and unambiguously recognized as the aggressor state and the territories of certain areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions occupied."

Representatives of the main pro-governmental parties in the parliament adhere to a similar point of view. The first deputy head of the faction "Fatherland" Sergei Sobolev believes that the law answers the main question: the possibility of using armed forces in Donbass.

"For the first time we recognize that we have no power operation (the so-called ATO is an anti-terrorist operation - ed.), and we are turning into the status that the UN has defined as the right to self-defense with the use of the country's armed forces," he said.

According to the leader of the Popular Front party Arseniy Yatsenyuk, the adoption of the law also gives an opportunity to adopt a decision of the UN Security Council on the introduction of peacekeepers in Donbass "on the conditions that are beneficial to Ukraine."

The only parliamentary party that openly opposed the law was the "Opposition bloc". It even tried at the last moment to achieve the repealing of laws by putting a relevant resolution to the vote. However, it was rejected by a majority of votes.

Many Ukrainian political scientists agree that the new law, in fact, destroys the Minsk process.

"Ukraine has left the track that was laid by the Minsk agreements on the settlement of the conflict in Donbass. Now these two political structures (agreements and law - ed.) will compete," the director of the Ukrainian Institute for Policy Analysis and Management Ruslan Bortnik said.

"If the direct dialogue between Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk is envisaged by the Minsk agreements, while Russia, Germany and France are the guarantors of this dialogue, then in the law there are no representatives of certain areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, but only the occupation administration," the expert explained. "Moreover, Russia in the law is no longer a guarantor, but an occupier, an aggressor country that has seized Ukrainian territories."

"Now anyone who conducts a dialogue, for example with Donetsk and Lugansk, can get criminally liable," Bortnik noted. "Now there will be no amnesty, because all those who collaborated with the occupation administration or are responsible for moral and material harm, which is inflicted on Ukraine, are liable to criminal liability. "

The head of the Ukrainian public organization "Public Audit" Maxim Goldarb also draws attention to the real strengthening of presidential powers.

"This law does not envisage any steps for the real return of Donbass at all - it was not written for this," he said. "Its real goal is to continue the unconstitutional usurpation of power in the hands of the president."

In particular, the expert noted, Poroshenko gets the right to use troops at his own discretion, without the consent of the parliament, under the pretext of "countering the aggressor". Now the Head of State can use the acquired right without any grounds.

"Anything, anywhere, including mass protests of people, calling them "an accomplice to the aggressor, can fall under the law," he predicts, while the authorities, according to the law, do not now bear "legal responsibility to their citizens for everything that has happened these years and what is happening now in Donbass."

DONi News Agency