First of all let's recap the current situation, vis-a-vis relations between the Southern and Eastern parts of the Ukraine, and the center - Kiev, and its new government. We can see that the Kiev Junta is strongly cracking down on Eastern Ukrainian political activism & organisation, internet media, political independence and identity.
- Laws have been instituted banning Russian TV media channels, and proposed laws have arisen among which are various calls for withdrawing the Russian language's official status in Eastern Ukrainian regions (the law instating this status was first withdrawn by the new government but then seemingly hastily reinstated), Lustration of old officials, phasing out the Cyrillic alphabet in favour of Latin, outlawing all traces of the Soviet past and national holidays, rewriting history and all sorts of other loony ideas.
- Maidan-friendly oligarchs have been appointed to run Eastern Ukrainian regions such Kharkov, Zaporozha, Donetsk, Nikolayev and Dneprpetrovsk, displacing all the old leaderships in these regions, not to mention new chiefs of police, SBU and so on. Many of these oligarchs have been implicated in mafia activities, serious crimes and in effect the whole 'battle against corruption' that the Maidan protestors claim to have been fighting for; has now been decided in such a way - that Eastern Ukraine is stuck with more corrupt rulers and officials than ever before.
- Lenin statues as well as statues of Kirov and other famous figures have been smashed and taken down by Maidan activists arriving to Eastern regions under the sponsorship of the new government and protected by the police under the orders of the very same new government. In fact Lenin statues have been outlawed by the new government or at least that was one of the proposals. In some Eastern Ukrainian cities, public squares were even provocatively renamed to heroes of Maidan squares, despite the opposition of the local population. When this was resisted by the Oplot organisation in Kharkov, its leader became wanted by the police for questioning.
- Party of Regions officials (i.e. Eastern-Ukrainian and Russian-speakers political representitives) have been purged of all government positions, while Party of Regions and Communist Party deputies have been coerced under threat into passing whatever laws and resolutions the other political party's deputies want in the duma; some have been beaten and even tortured.
- Mass anti-Russian hysteria has swept the country, all TV media and all major internet media has come under the control of the new government, with those opposed being threatened or closed-down. Internet forums have also been taken over by pro-Maidan, pro-Bandera moderators over the past few years; including even those of most Eastern Ukrainian cities such as Dneprpetrovsk and Kharkov, with pro-Russian posters being simply banned over the past two weeks. Eastern Ukrainians have had to rapidly organise the hosting of new forums.
- Pravyj Sektor militants are being given more and more of a central role, as police forces in Kiev and Western Ukraine, as security for Maidan protestors in Eastern regions, etc... and now also as official military formations of some description and designation.
- Berkut police units - hailed as heroes by the Eastern half of the country - have been disbanded, and in the case of those hailing from Western regions; humiliated, threatened, beaten, etc... basically they now feel very unwelcome in their own homes. Criminal cases opened in regards to the shooting of police forces and Berkut members during the last few days of the old government have been closed. Berkut have been accused of most of the killings that have taken place, are the target of scorn and hatred, etc...
- Eastern Ukrainian political activists have been threatened, beaten, arrested, smeared in the media and labelled as Russian provocatuers, etc... while the meetings themselves have been either completely ignored or derided in the Ukrainian press as consisting of 'Titushki' (paid provocateurs) or arrivals from Russia. Police reinforcements have been flooding various Eastern regions in order to prevent protestors ousting any of their new leaders appointed by Kiev. No demands have been met, no referendums are planned. The 21st of February political summit of Eastern Ukrainian regional leaders was labeled by the Ukrainian SBU as an attempt at separatism, and many of its attendants were forced to hide or flee to Russia right after its conclusion.And this isn't even to mention the situation with the Crimea, where provocations by Crimean Tatar radicals were organised by Pravyj Sektor militants, where the Ukrainian media has been waging a non-stop propaganda war, various provocateurs have been trying to destabilise the situation, and now where it looks like the Ukraine is attempting to send all of its combat-capable military units to.
I think that under such conditions it's impossible to talk about any sorts of compromises or negotiations by Eastern regions with the authorities in Kiev, and the authorities in Kiev look like they are there to stay. Even if they fall, someone even more authoritarian will simply replace them.
The talk of federalization looks unlikely too, the Kiev junta is having none of it, and is cracking down on all dissent and on free speech.
Russia's game plan, if it aims towards federalization, would have to arrive at it as a result of a EU/US-Russian compromise; because the current Kiev government isn't about to give way. And even if Russia does get federalization - what then? What's the point of it? Regions will still have to follow the center when it comes to the most important questions, and the country won't be able to be part of 2 economic alliances at the same time. The country will still be in just as much trouble as before; because unless it joins the Eurasian Custom's Union it's industrial economy will suffer severe degradation. Russia would be crazy to give any money to such a country, or try and save it.
I think the only sensible solution is for the Eastern Ukrainian regions to unite and form their own republic.
A new Russia, a new Russian-speaking nation on Russia's Western borders, a hub of industry and a beacon of transit, motherland to all who call it home of any race or origin, with a large population and huge potential.
i.e. What the Ukraine SHOULD have been in the first place - instead of the mess that that it has become of nationalists, Russophobes and general loonies.
So now, it's important to start all over again. And this time DO IT RIGHT.
No Western regions, no Nazi-worshiping nonsense or slogans, no blaming the 'Moskals' for all their problems, no 'Holodomor' Ukrainian genocide myth, no forced Ukrainization and some anti-Russian trash history being taught at school, no signing up for American nation-building in the Middle-East, no decaying industry and dying population, no oligarchs ruling and manipulating the country... no, none of that - BUT INSTEAD; fraternal ties to brotherly Russia, membership in the CSTO military alliance, membership of the EurASEC customs union and further economic integration projects, Russian as an official language, minority rights and support for minority languages, keeping alive many of the Soviet traditions that binded its constituent republics together, birth-rate increases & focus on healthcare, etc...
- 8 regions (Donetsk, Lugansk, Kharkov, Dnepropetrovsk, Odessa, Nikolayev, Kherson, Zaporozhia),
- 3 autonomous republics (Crimea, Transdniestr/Pridnestrovie & Gagauzia*),
- 1 city with a special status (Sevastopol)
- 2 state languages (Russian & Ukrainian), 3 languages with a regional status (Crimean Tatar, Gagauz & Moldovan)
- 22 million people; Ukrainians, Russians, Crimean Tatars, Jews, Moldovans, Gagauz Turks & Bulgarians
- Over 100,000 square miles of land,
- Shipyards of Nikolayev, Mariupol, Kherson, Kerch & Sevastopol,
- Ports of Odessa, Sevastopol, Mariupol, Yevpatoria, Kherson, Yalta, Feodosia, Kerch, Nikolayev, Berdnyansk & Illichivsk,
- Climate and resorts of the Crimea, Odessa seaside,
- Metropolises of Kharkov, Odessa, Dnepropetrovsk & Donetsk,
- Heavy Industry of Pridnestrovie, Donbass, Dnepropetrovsk, Zaporozhie, Nikolayev & Kharkov,
- Tank factory & Antonov aircraft factory of Kharkov, Rocket design & production of Dnepropetrovsk, Carrier aircraft training facility of the Crimea, Aviation engine production of Zaporozhia, Naval base of Sevastopol, Naval shipbuilding of Nikolayev.
Now you may ask - why is a seperate republic neccessary, why not just annex it into Russia? A multitude of good reasons.
1. So as to not alarm Russia's CIS neighbours and even close allies; particularly Belarus and Kazakhstan, but also others such as Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. A straight up annexation would get them worried about their own territory; the consequences would be unpredictable. It will push Russia's neighbours away from the idea of regional integration, and towards the West to attain security guarantees, and rightly so. And of course with the Ukraine itself - there will be constant military tensions, provocations or whatever.
2. So as to not alarm everyone else, and also not to give anyone else any ideas; whether friend like China, neutral like Japan, Finland, Turkey or Western Europe, or adverse such as most of Eastern Europe, Sweden and the United States. Basically it won't lead to anything good in terms of Russia's relations with the rest of the world, it would set very dangerous precedents which could have repercussions particularly in East and South-East Asia where various actors such as China might attempt to employ them, it will alarm the United States, lead to a rise of military tensions, cut-back in contacts, decrease of a co-operation on terrorism and a ruining in the rapprochement/increasing business ties between Russia and several of its immediate Western neighbours such as Finland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland. Likely it would lead to less business and in particular defense and energy co-operation with France, Britain, Germany and so on too.
3. A separate republic on the contrary will be more acceptable to the rest of the world, if it comes about as a result of the will of the people of the Eastern Ukraine (just as the Junta in Kiev has come about as result of the will of the people there); Western nations and the rest of the world would be more inclined to look at it as a natural entity and recognize it, particularly if as the result of a compromise with Russia, in order to defuse East-West tension and avoid a new Cold War. Such a compromise can entail the right to hold referendums not only in the Ukraine but in neighbouring regions of Moldova too on joining it (i.e. Gagauzia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gagauzia), as well as the seperatist republic of Pridnestrovie; while everyone else will be free to remain in the Ukraine and Moldova and join EU/NATO or do whatever; splitting the bills and debts accordingly and not having to worry about East Ukrainian industry; which will make it far cheaper for the West to integrate those territories and avoid a massive headache.
4. Because a large people such as the Ukrainians deserve their own state, a proper state and not a failed Somalia like the current Ukraine is becoming. Even in Eastern Ukraine, ethnic Ukrainians are a majority. The idea is not to make Russia bigger; it's already big enough - but to re-create the Ukraine, with equal support for the Ukrainian language and people as for the Russian language and people there. And like I said - to do it right; without losing sight of their ties with Russia. The creation of such a state, an 'Eastern Ukraine', will make it more enticing for those Eastern Ukrainians hovering on the borderline and not quite stepping up for annexation into Russia, and it will also be more appealing in the future for other Ukrainian territories to join it too; such as the Kirovograd oblast and a couple of other bordering ones, where the Banderovite propaganda is not yet so entrenched. The ultimate aim should be to liberate Kiev eventually pirat
5. Because it's not necessary to have absolutely everything in one big wallop of a country, and a little more decentralization via means of separate countries while sharing the same economic/political/military union might make things more efficient and encourage some competition. Eastern Ukraine has already been seperate from Russia for 23 years, and was in a separate USSR republic for decades before that, so while it's links with Russia are very substantial, it's got a huge amount of trade and integration between itself too, and may function better as a self-contained economic/industrial heartland; with its own military, merchant fleet, heavy industries, defense products, etc... Malorus can have different laws, policies, etc... to Russia and other countries; and it will be possible to see which ones work better, or for people to move to Malorus if they desire something new and different.