Putin's aide Surkov and Donbas separatist leaders visit South Ossetia to celebrate ‘independence’ anniversary
At a ceremony in honor of the 10th anniversary of Russia’s recognition of South Ossetia’s “independence”, Russian Presidential Aide Vladislav Surkov, who was previously Russia’s authorized representative for the Donbas, called the self-declared republic of South Ossetia a “lifeline” for the militant-occupied separatist regions of Ukraine, the so-called Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics (L/DPR), TASS reports.
The event was attended by the leaders of the separatist territories in Ukraine, DPR militant leader Alexander Zakharchenko and LPR militant leader Leonid Pasechnik. The report does not specify whether they met with Surkov. Surkov called South Ossetia “the only state” which has had the “bravery, boldness, honesty and loyalty to recognize the DPR and LPR”.
He also alleged that the Ukrainian government is “blockading” the “people of the Donbas”. “The financial, commercial, economic, legal and organizational infrastructure created in South Ossetia for these republics is a lifeline under the blockade conditions,” Putin’s assistant said.
The self-declared Republic of South Ossetia recognized the “independence” of the L/DPR in 2014.
During the ceremony, South Ossetian “President” Anatoly Bibilov awarded Surkov an “Order of Honor”.
DPR leader Zakharchenko was also granted a South Ossetian state award. According to several DPR supporters, a company called Vneshtorgservis (“Foreign Trade Service”), which is registered in South Ossetia, manages the enterprises in the Donbas that were seized by the L/DPR in March 2017.
Previously, South Ossetian President Bibilov said that he consults with DPR representatives. At the start of 2018, he visited DPR-controlled Donetsk “to work to develop economic and trade relations”.
Vladislav Surkov is Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aide. Since the 2004 elections, he has overseen the matter of Ukraine, and according to many sources, he has been responsible for Russia’s relations with Ukraine since 2013.
On June 13, 2018, news came out that Putin, elected in 2018 for his fourth presidential term, had signed a law reappointing Surkov as his aide.
Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov said that Surkov is continuing to work towards a “resolution” of the conflict in Eastern Ukraine.
The pro-Russian militants in the Donbas have admitted that Surkov oversees their actions and the coordination of the Russians who arrive in the temporarily occupied territories.