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Economic Blockade Raises Tensions in Ukraine

March 1, 2017 (EIRNS)—In Ukraine, the economic blockade imposed on the Donbass by right-wing militia groups since Jan. 25, is about to explode into a full-scale crisis. Even former Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma, who represents the Kiev regime on the Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine, warned that the blockade is not doing Ukraine any good. "Such methods are not helping [Ukraine], their effect has been quite the opposite," Kuchma told reporters in Kiev, yesterday. Kuchma argued that problems of this kind need to be handled urgently.

Boris Gryzlov, the Russian envoy to the contact group, warned that the government in Kiev must take action to end the blockade of Donbass. Otherwise, Ukraine will receive a response. Such actions as expanding the blockade, "actually aimed at the economic and social exclusion, will inevitably lead to retaliation," he said.

"Donbass is neither an enclave nor an island... We cannot allow a humanitarian and socio-economic catastrophe on the territories, whose population exceeds the population of some European countries,"

he added.

The head of the Donetsk People’s Republic, Alexander Zakharchenko, confirmed yesterday that the self-declared republic will move to take control of all Ukrainian enterprises operating in the D.P.R. if they have not re-registered with the D.P.R. authorities by midnight, tonight. He noted that many enterprises have ceased operating because of the blockade, a situation which is simply not tolerable. He also noted that the decision was a long time in coming.

"We are at war. It’s time to make strategic decisions," he said. "This decision has been taken at the time when it is necessary. We have repeatedly spoken about our independence."

As for which groups are specifically involved in blocking roads and railways, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's Special Monitoring Mission, in its daily report of Feb. 28, identified members of the Aidar battalion and Right Sector at blockade sites, though the particular groups of men the monitors encountered were not armed.