The self-proclaimed foreign minister for the pro-Russian separatist group the Donetsk People's Republic (DNR), which is currently battling Kiev's forces in eastern Ukraine, has announced plans to host a "summit of unrecognized states" such as Flanders, the Basque country and Texas in a video initially broadcast on the local pro-separatist channel Oplot TV earlier this week.
The DNR representative, Alexander Koffman, said he plans to host the summit in either February or March, inviting representatives from regions with separatist leanings around Europe such as Spain's Basque region, Belgium's Flanders region, Italy's Venetian region and even the American state of Texas hoping to create a "League of New States".
"We already have agreement from representatives of these states," Koffman said, arguing the only reason such a meeting has not yet happened is out of fear the movements will make it easier for political opponents to attack them at once.
The interviewer took particular interest to the mention of Texas and asked Kauffman whether there were indeed "seeds of support for DNR in Texas".
"They are more than seeds. The representative of Texan independence fully supports the Donetsk People's Republic," Kauffman responded, although he didn't identify the representative.
"Our enemy is Nazism. Whether in Ukraine or globally," he added.
Koffman also listed the Russian-backed separatist republic of Abkhazia - which announced its independence from Georgia in 1990 and was recognised by Russia in 2008 - as a partner, but omitted the newly formed state of Kosovo which has been backed by 108 countries but not Russia.
"My global goal is to even out the process of recognizing states," Koffman said, before questioning why Kosovo would be considered separate from Serbia since its separation in 2008 and not the DNR.
"What does it mean that Kosovo is recognized? We operate in a very logical way. If France recognizes us and Britain does not, then we will do business with France."
Asked how Russian politicians feel about the DNR's aspirations for statehood, Koffman said "unfortunately there is no united line".
"They maintain that Ukraine has to accept it first, but [Kiev's] crimes that are going on are being documented and they will be dealt with in due time," Koffman added, although he did not cite any specific crimes.
Asked about his own national identity, Koffman, who was born in the eastern Ukrainian town of Makiivka told his interviewer he found it "difficult to explain".
"I have twice rejected job opportunities to head banks in Kiev," Koffman said. "I have turned down numerous opportunities in Moscow because I have my home, my land and my friends."
Oplot TV, which broadcasts in Russian, has previously aired interviews with other separatist commanders. The increase in pro-separatist Russian-language media in eastern Ukraine has prompted Ukrainians to coin the term 'information war' when referring to the differing accounts of the conflict according to Ukrainian and Russian outlets, even prompting a recentvideo address by Ukrainian student activists in a bid to "show Russian students we are not child crucifiers", as alleged in Russian media.
The Ukrainian government also assembled a Ministry of Information Politics, dubbed the 'Ministry of Truth' by critics, to deal with the increasing prevalence of Russian language media outlets working in Ukraine, intended to strengthen the pro-Russian narrative of the conflict in Ukraine.
A Princeton PhD, was a US diplomat for over 20 years, mostly in Eastern Europe, and was promoted to the Senior Foreign Service in 1997. For the Open World Leadership Center, he speaks with
its delegates from Europe/Eurasia on the topic, "E Pluribus Unum? What Keeps the United States United" (http://johnbrownnotesandessays.blogspot.com/2017/03/notes-and-references-for-discussion-e.html). Affiliated with Georgetown University (http://explore.georgetown.edu/people/jhb7/) for over ten years, he shares ideas with students about public diplomacy.
The papers of his deceased father -- poet and diplomat John L. Brown -- are stored at Georgetown University Special Collections at the Lauinger Library. They are manuscript materials valuable to scholars interested in post-WWII U.S.-European cultural relations.
This blog is dedicated to him, Dr. John L. Brown, a remarkable linguist/humanist who wrote in the Foreign Service Journal (1964) -- years before "soft power" was ever coined -- that "The CAO [Cultural Affairs Officer] soon comes to realize that his job is really a form of love-making and that making love is never really successful unless both partners are participating."