This article may be confusing or unclear to readers. (March 2022)
Federal State of New Russia
Воля и Труд!
Volya i Trud!
"Will and effort!"
"Live, New Russia!"
|Status||Confederation of unrecognized states|
|Official languages||Russian, Ukrainian|
|Religion||Russian Orthodox (official)|
|Membership|| Donetsk Republic|
• Speaker of the Parliament
|Historical era||Russo-Ukrainian War|
|22 May 2014|
|20 May 2015|
|Time zone||UTC+3 (Moscow Time)|
|Today part of||Ukraine, Donetsk People's Republic, Luhansk People's Republic|
Novorossiya, Novorussia, or New Russia (Russian: Новороссия, tr. Novorossiya, IPA: [nəvɐˈrosʲɪjə]; Ukrainian: Новоросія, romanized: Novorosiya), also referred to as the Union of People's Republics (Russian: Сою́з наро́дных респу́блик, tr. Soyuz narodnykh respublik, IPA: [sɐˈjus nɐˈrodnɨx rʲɪˈspublʲɪk]; Ukrainian: Союз народних республік, Soyuz Narodnykh Respublik), was a proposed confederation of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) and Luhansk People's Republic (LPR) in Eastern Ukraine, both of which are under the control of pro-Russian separatists. The term come from historic New Russia, a former colonial Russian territory conquered from the Cossacks and the Ottomans in which Russian settlers were encouraged to settle down.
At present, the two constituent republics of the proposed confederation have only Russian diplomatic recognition, and the Ukrainian Government has classified them as terrorist organizations and refers to their territory as the Anti-Terrorist Operation Zone. The creation of Novorossiya was declared on 22 May 2014, and one month later spokespeople of both republics declared their merger into a confederal "Union of People's Republics". Within a year, the project was suspended: on 1 January 2015, founding leadership announced the project has been put on hold, and on 20 May the constituent members announced the freezing of the political project.
The historical Novorossiya was a territory of the Russian Empire formed from the Crimean Khanate and Zaporizhian Sich which was under a mutual condominium of the Russian Empire and the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. The territory had been annexed several years after the Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca concluded the Russo-Turkish War in 1774. Novorossiya initially included today's Southern Ukraine as well as some parts of today's Russia such as Kuban. The modern Russian Black Sea coast that was occupied by indigenous Circassians under military protection of the Ottoman Empire was not conquered until 1829 and was ceded to Russia under the 1829 Treaty of Adrianople.
The Donetsk–Krivoy Rog Soviet Republic was invoked during the war in Donbas (started 2014), when the legislature of the unrecognised separatist Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) adopted a memorandum on 5 February 2015 declaring itself the successor to the Donetsk–Krivoy Rog Soviet Republic, and Artyom as founding father.
The region was soon colonized by Ukrainian, Romanian, Russian, German, Greek, Bulgarian, Jewish and other settlers. The major cities were Odessa, Kherson, Mykolaiv, and Novorossiysk. In 1802 the province of Novorossiya was split into three Governorates.
Most of 18th century Novorossiya was incorporated in 1917 into the newly proclaimed Ukrainian People's Republic. After the defeat of pro-independence Ukrainians in the Soviet–Ukrainian War, the Soviet government confirmed that Southern Ukraine was part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.
The Novorossiya movement made its appearance in Odessa in August 1990. The movement, known as the Democratic Union of Novorossiya, argued that given the separate ethnos of the region it should have an autonomous status within a federated Ukrainian state. It campaigned for 'special state status' within 'the historical boundaries of Novorossiya' (at the time Odessa, Mykolaiv, Kherson, Dnipropetrovsk, and Crimean Oblasts, and also part of the Dniester region of the Moldavian SSR). It failed, however, to gain popular support.
In September 1990 Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn published an article in opposition to the cultural partition of Ukraine and Russia in which he references 'Novorossiya', i.e., "including those regions which have never been part of the traditional Ukraine: the 'wild steppe' of the nomads—the latter "New Russia" [Новороссия]--as well as the Crimea, the Donbas area, and the lands stretching east almost to the Caspian Sea". He argues that "self-determination of peoples" requires that a nation must resolve issues of identity for itself.
By November 1991 representatives from the Odessa, Kherson, Mykolaiv and Crimean oblasts had met in Odessa to discuss the question of forming a new state, 'Novorossiya'. This was necessitated, they explained, by the growth of 'nationalist tendencies' in Ukraine, its increasing isolationism, and diminishing ties with Russia.
Three days after the 1 December 1991 referendum on Ukrainian independence, the mayor of St Petersburg, Anatoly Sobchak, argued that Russia had handed over to Ukraine "a whole series of Russian provinces, the so-called Novorossiya, whose population is for the most part Russian" and that the Russian minority in Ukraine was threatened with forcible 'Ukrainianisation'. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union the term Novorossiya began to be used again in calls for the independence or secession of regions of Ukraine corresponding to different areas.
As late as September 1992, in Odessa, several organizations such as the Civic Movement of Odessa, Rus', the Socialist Party, and Novorossia are campaigning for the establishment of a separate Novorossian region, the exact borders of which were still being debated.
Dmitry Trenin of the Carnegie Moscow Center wrote that in 2005 and again in 2008 some quarters in Moscow, that were not entirely academic, discussed the idea of a Russia-friendly buffer state, "Novorossiya", being formed out of southern Ukraine from the Crimea to Odessa in response to perceived Western penetration into the former Soviet Union.
On 17 April 2014, during talks in Geneva on resolving the rising unrest in southern and eastern Ukraine, President Putin stated at a question and answer session that even "in the tsarist days – Kharkov, Lugansk, Donetsk, Kherson, Nikolayev and Odessa – were not part of Ukraine" but part of Novorossiya, and that they had been irresponsibly ceded to Ukraine.[nb 1]
On 29 August 2014 President Putin issued a statement addressed to the "Militia of Novorossiya" calling upon it to show humanitarian compassion and allow surrounded Ukrainian soldiers to withdraw and reunite with their families. This was the last official statement by President Putin addressing "Novorossiya".
As part of Russia hybrid warfare in Ukraine on 17 April Russian president Vladimir Putin launched his concept of the historic Novorossiya, giving legitimacy to the nascent separatist movement when he described the Donbas as part of the historic "New Russia" (Novorossiya) region, and issued a statement of bewilderment as how the region had ever become part of Ukraine in 1922 with the foundation of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.
The New Russia Party, founded on 13 May 2014 in Donetsk, Ukraine, declared on its first congress of 22 May 2014 the formation of a new self-declared state named 'Novorossiya', inspired by the historical region of the Russian Empire that carried that name. The congress was attended by separatist officials of the Donetsk People's Republic, Donbas People's Militia as well as by the Donetsk Republic leader Pavel Gubarev, ultranationalist/Stalinist writer Alexander Prokhanov, Eurasianist political scientist and Eurasia Party leader Aleksandr Dugin, and Valery Korovin. According to Gubarev the state would include Kharkiv[nb 2], Kherson, Dnipropetrovsk, Mykolaiv, Odessa and Zaporizhzhia. Two days later, the self-appointed 'Prime Minister' of Donetsk Alexander Borodai and Luhansk "head of the Republic" Aleksey Karyakin signed a document behind closed doors formalizing their merger into the new confederation.
In an interview on 31 May, Denis Pushilin, then acting as head of state of the Donetsk People's Republic, stated that Novorossiya currently existed as a union of people's republics, but cooperation could be deepened if more territories were to join. On 24 June, the two People's Republics proclaimed their accession to the union of people's republics, and at the second plenum of the new Parliament of Novorossiya on 15 July, the confederation adopted the official name of Novorossiya. Since 2 November 2014 Donbas general elections the Parliament did not gather anymore.
Parallel December 2014 declaration
On 12 December 2014, a "Congress of Deputies of All Levels" led by former DPR deputy foreign minister Boris Borisov, alongside figures such as Pavel Gubarev, issued a renewed declaration of the state sovereignty of the "Union of Sovereign Republics" of Novorossiya, claiming it to be an amendment of the 1922 Treaty on the Creation of the USSR. In contrast to the May agreement, the new declaration aimed to build a new executive "from scratch". An official of the DPR responded that although Borisov was well-intentioned, his initiative did not have the material backing necessary for success.
Suspension of the project
On 20 May 2015 supporters of the LNR and the DNR officially announced the freezing of the "New Russia" project and the closure of the related structures of political technology. Oleg Tsaryov, chairman of the movement "New Russia" said that the activities of the Joint Parliament of Novorossiya are frozen because the confederation did not comply with the Minsk II accords. On 11 May 2014, a referendum on self-determination in eight regions (Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhia, Odessa, Luhansk, Mykolaiv, Kharkiv, Kherson, and Donetsk) was not held as expected, but only in the Lugansk and Donetsk republics. On 24 May 2014, delegates from these eight regions created the Joint Parliament of New Russia; however, this proved to be only virtual in nature as the political structure was unclaimed: the expected delegation of representatives did not occur, leading to curtailment of the Parliament initiative.
The status of Novorossiya came into dispute on 26 May 2014, when according to Bolotov, "none of the agreements have been concluded" but the intention is to form a "Union of People's Republics". On 1 January 2015, former Donetsk Republic Prime Minister Alexander Borodai, who resigned on 7 August 2014, stated that "there is no Novorossiya" and that the proposed state was a "dream that was not brought to life" and called it a false start. On 8 June 2015, the leaders of DPR and LPR submitted their proposed changes to the Constitution of Ukraine that, while calling for wide autonomy of the Donbas region, conceded them as territories of Ukraine. No change was proposed regarding the status of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea as part of Ukraine, considering the status of Crimea outside their purview. This was imputed by news agencies as a recognition by the leaders of DPR and LPR of Ukrainian sovereignty over Crimea. Given this interpretation, these changes were withdrawn within hours, and on 15 June 2015, DPR "Prime Minister" Alexander Zakharchenko claimed that the DPR "will never be part of Ukraine".
In mid-June 2015, Igor Girkin said that the situation in Novorossiya was a "colossal failure" no one knew how to patch up, and that the plan was to negotiate the return of the autonomous regions of Donetsk and Lugansk to Ukraine in return for Ukraine's de facto acceptance of the annexation of Crimea to the Russian Federation, the gradual withdrawal of sanctions, and the return of all other territories to their previous condition. According to Girkin, should such a "wonderful" plan be realised, Ukraine would become a federal state. "Consequently, in such a manner, a safety catch would be put in place for its entry into NATO. Russia would get leverage over Kyiv in the form of the autonomous regions, and everything would settle down." On 9 June 2016, an anonymous Russian businessman averred that the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 forfeited any chance to create the confederation.
A project was declared on 18 July 2017 by the Donetsk People's Republic to include all of Ukraine, but the name was changed to "Malorossiya" (Little Russia). The Luhansk People's Republic, however, stated that it would not be taking part in the project. The announcement was widely condemned by nations, including Russia, which pointed to the Minsk agreement.
No sovereign state of the United Nations has recognized Novorossiya as a sovereign state or political entity. The two constituent republics, the Luhansk People's Republic and the Donetsk People's Republic, are only recognized by one United Nations member, Russia (since 21 February 2022), as well as by the de facto state of South Ossetia since 2014.
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