This is in response to the blockade of coal shipments from the LDNR into Ukraine by right wing militants, who oppose absolutely anything that helps finance the republics. The resulting energy blockade threatens the stability of what appears to be a surprisingly vigorous Ukrainian economic recovery, and puts Poroshenko – with his record low ratings – in further political jeopardy.
It is also far more significant than the recognition of LDNR docs a couple of weeks ago. That was, essentially, just a humanitarian gesture by Russia. In contrast, nationalization of Ukrainian enterprises does two major things:
(1) It moves the commanding heights of the economy under the DNR legal framework, which has been – for lack of alternatives – integrating with Russia for the past couple of years. That means no more taxes to Ukraine. That means the cutting of one of the last major bonds that tie them to the Ukrainian polity and, consequently, the feasibility of any future reintegration scenario that stops short of a complete Putinsliv (total Russian abandonment).
(2) It severely undercuts the already precaurious position of Rinat Akhmetov, the Poroshenko-allied oligarch who controls most of the heavy industry in the Donbass (there are residual rumors that the reason the DNR offensive to take Mariupol was called off was to allow his enterprises to continue exporting from an internationally recognized port). More speculatively, this might also weaken the position of Alexander Khodakovsky, Akhmetov’s main protege in the DNR, who has been its main voice of compromise and supporter of reintegration with the Ukraine.
Incidentally, it is widely believed that the militias behind the blockade are financed by Kolomoysky. Since having had his challenge to Poroshenko undercut by US diplomatic intervention, and punished through the privatization of his bank Privatbank, Kolomoysky’s fortunes have been on the wane. This might be his play to restore them. First, Akhmetov is Kolomoysky’s direct rival, and Kolomoysky standards to directly benefit from his losses. Second, he has very ample reasons to want revenge against Poroshenko. Third, he has allied himself with Yulia Tymoshenko, who has re-emerged in the past year to become the highest polling politician in Ukraine, including vis-a-vis Poroshenko (not that this is a high bar to clear). The blockade gives Kolomoysky leverage, and the brewing energy/economic crisis may create the conditions to trigger new parliamentary elections that will allow him to replace Poroshenko’s PM Vladimir Groysman with his own allies.
For all the Kremlins’ convoluted efforts to reinsert the LDNR into a federalized Ukraine, all those “clever plans”/mnogokhodovki keep on getting shattered against the Scylla of uncompromising, uncontrolled Ukrainian nationalism and the Charybdis of Ukrainian clan politics. But then again, maybe that was the idea in the first place. Maybe the true mnogokhodovka succeeds through failure; maybe the intent was always to achieve peremoga through zrada.