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The Daily Vertical: Rebranding The Donbas (Transcript)

The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect the views of RFE/RL.

Whenever the Kremlin or its proxies dream up a new name for Ukraine, it's often a sure sign that trouble is on the way.

Russia's war in the Donbas of course commenced as Kremlin spinmeisters coined the term Novorossia to refer to the crescent-shaped strip of land stretching from Kharkiv in the north to Odesa in the south.

Now, it's tempting to dismiss as absurd calls last week by the Moscow-backed separatist leader Aleksandr Zakharchenko to replace Ukraine with a new state called Malorossia, with its capital in Donetsk.

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But while it may be tempting, it's probably not a good idea.

Because this little effort at rebranding comes at a time when Moscow is desperately trying to reset the war in Ukraine.

It comes as SBU chief Vasyl Hrytsak said Russia is escalating its efforts to destabilize Ukraine by "organizing artificial provocative protests."

It comes in the aftermath of the assassination of two Ukrainian military intelligence officers.

And perhaps most significantly, it's been blessed by Vladislav Surkov, the Kremlin's point man on Ukraine policy.

Russia doesn't want or need a frozen conflict in eastern Ukraine.

The war in the Donbas has always been a means to the end of crippling and controlling the entire country.

And the Malorossia gambit is a clear signal that Moscow is unhappy with the status quo and is preparing to shake it up.

Whenever Russia dreams up new names for Ukraine, we should always pay attention.

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