Russian-backed rebels fighting against Kiev on Tuesday announced a plan to create a new “state” they said would take the place of Ukraine and have its capital in their territory.
Ukraine´s pro-Western authorities immediately ridiculed the idea as a Kremlin project that they would never allow to get off the ground.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov in turn called the plan the “personal initiative” of rebel leader Alexander Zakharchenko and said that “Moscow learnt about it this morning from media”, in comments to Russian news agency RIA Novosti.
The separatists said the proposed country would be founded after a referendum and called Malorossiya, a tsarist-era name meaning “Little Russia” that once described most of the area covering modern-day Ukraine.
A constitution presented by rebel leader Zakharchenko said his self-declared Donetsk People´s Republic, neighbouring rebel-held Lugansk and other regions had agreed to “declare the establishment of a new state, which is the successor of Ukraine.”
The document — released by the separatists´ news agency — said rebel bastion Donetsk would become the capital, while Kiev would be reduced to the status of a “historical and cultural centre”.
The proposal seems to stand no chance of gaining traction and the insurgents themselves appeared unable to agree on it.
The press service for Lugansk rebel chief Igor Plotnitsky said he had not been consulted on the project.
Ukraine´s Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin quickly derided the plan on Twitter as another “show” by the insurgents´ “Kremlin puppet masters”.
“We and our partners will not let this happen,” he vowed.