Ukraine’s collapse has been developing since the proclamation of the country’s independence. By now it has reached a critical point. Odesa, Kharkiv, and Zaporizzhia regions are going to ask Russia for long-term economic assistance. They initiated negotiations with Moscow and neighbouring Russian regions about closer cooperation and integration. It is about some form of a regional economic partnership which will allow Ukrainian regions to survive through the economic crisis. It is hard to say yet how this economic cooperation will develop in the future. It may take the form of Crimea 1992 status [i.e. autonomous republics]. Mykolayiv and Kherson regions may also take part in the economic partnership. Therefore basically all eastern Ukrainian regions but Dnipropetrovsk region may develop a closer economic integration with Russia. The authorities of Ukraine will likely have to tolerate this development as it will be hard for them to wage a civil war on a few fronts.
Ukrainian authorities gave up on country’s regions. Regions do not hope for assistance from Kyiv or the West any longer. At the same time unemployment, poverty of the population, and industrial decline have all aggravated due to the pandemic. For years the regional authorities were worried that in case they move towards closer integration with Russia they could be announced separatists and suffer from counter-terrorist operation as in Donetsk or Luhansk. Now that the social and economic situation seriously aggravated, regional authorities of Ukraine can finally follow this path. It was opened by local legislation enacted five years ago which allows them to build a special relationship with neighbouring countries without regard to central authorities.