Donetsk rebels declare 'successor state' to Ukraine


Separatists in eastern Ukraine on Tuesday proclaimed a new state that aspires to include not only the areas they control but also the rest of Ukraine.

A separatist leader in eastern Ukraine on Tuesday declared the creation of a new so-called "successor" state called Malorossiya or Little Russia.

"We, representatives of the regions of former Ukraine, with the exception of the Crimea, declare the establishment of a new state, which is the successor state to Ukraine," Alexander Zakharchenko, the leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, was quoted as saying by the Interfax Ukraine news agency.

Zakharchenko's Russia-supported Donetsk enclave is unrecognized by the international community, and the new "state" seems set to share the same fate.

Ukraine has been wracked by conflict in its eastern regions since March 2014, after Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea. Fighting with separatists in the Donbass area -- including Donetsk -- has led to more than 10,000 deaths, according to the UN.

Zakharchenko said the capital of the new "state" will be the city of Donetsk, with Kiev, Ukraine's actual capital, remaining for the separatists a historical and cultural center, not a capital city.

The separatist leader also said it would be necessary to introduce a state of emergency in the country for three years, according to Russian news agency Interfax.

Following the declaration, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko pledged to restore sovereignty in the eastern regions of the country.

"The 'Novorossiya' [new Russia] project was buried. Ukraine will restore sovereignty over Donbass and Crimea," Svyatoslav Tsegolko, Poroshenko's press secretary, quoted him as saying on Twitter.

Along with many UN countries, the U.S., the EU, and Turkey also do not recognize Crimea as Russian territory.

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