What do Texas, Scotland, Ukraine, Catalonia, and other regions have in common? A not insignificant number of separatists. And this commonality is giving rise to surprising bedfellows.
Take for instance, a new alliance between pro-Putin separatists in Ukraine and our own brand of local secessionists. Newsweek reports that the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) is seeking to create a “League of New Nations” that brings together separatists from Texas, Ukraine, Scotland, the Basque region of Spain, Venice, and Flanders in Belgium—and apparently the Texans that Alexander Kofman, the DNR’s foreign minister, has reached out to are into the idea:
“We already have agreement from representatives of these states,” Kofman 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 Kofman 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,” Kofman responded, although he didn’t identify the representative.
In his interview, which aired on Oplot TV, a rebel-controlled television channel, Kofman does not identify the Texas representative he’s spoken to by name. (And the Newsweek story ran with the, er, somewhat deceptive headline “Donetsk People’s Republic Has ‘Full Support of Texas’, Says Pro-Russian Rebel,” which doesn’t distinguish between an unnamed representative and, say, Greg Abbott or the Texas Legislature.) Kofman told Tom Parfitt, Moscow correspondent for The Telegraph, that he has made contact with 18 terrorities, including someone from Texas:
“Texas, Scotland, Flanders, Venice, Bohemia – no, hang on, not Bohemia – the Basques, Catalonia,” he reeled off the names as he sucked on an electronic cigarette during an interview at his ministry in a business centre in Donetsk. “We’ve already had direct contact with 18 territories – don’t ask me to name them all, my memory could fail me.” The minister’s plan, he said, is to unite a flock of unrecognised republics and breakaway lands into a mighty coalition that “could, let’s say, represent 10 per cent of the area of the globe, or 15 per cent of its population, or 7 per cent of GDP”.
“It’s my initiative,” explained Mr Kofman, 37, who was appointed in November. “We are inviting any territory that at the moment wants independence but does not yet have the status of a sovereign state to join our union; for example, Texas. There are activists there who are fighting for that and they fully support Novorossiya.”
The Texas Nationalist Movement confirmed a meeting with a DNR representative in Moscow in December and said “Novorossiya”—another term for rebel-controlled parts of Ukraine—had a “fundamental right” to self determination.
The president of the Texas Nationalist Movement is Daniel Miller, who’s been looking to international independence movements like the one that failed in Scotland last fall as an inspiration for Texas, so it makes some sense that he and his organization would be interested in what’s happening in Ukraine. But beyond separating from the nation that they’re currently a part of, it’s hard to see a lot of commonality in the political interests of Texan, Ukrainian, Scottish, Basque, Venetian, and Flanders independence movements. Basque separatists are largely left-wing and live in a semi-autonomous region with a history of violence, for example; Scottish independence involves, among other causes, nuclear disarmament and its battle was fought at the ballot box. The Texas Nationalist Movement certainly couldn’t be described as “left-wing,” meanwhile, and the DNR has a history of kidnapping journalists, shelling civilians, and seeks reunification with Russia.
Still, all of those things apparently mean less to the various separatists in Texas, Ukraine, and elsewhere than their common goal to leave politically and geographically diverse countries for a wide array of reasons.
The DNR and other Russian-backed separatist groups have been engaged in a bloody conflict that has claimed more than 5,000 lives for control of a chunk of Eastern Ukraine since last year; the Scottish independence referendum narrowly failed at the ballot, but came shockingly close to shaking up the political landscape of the UK; Basque separatists may continue to use violence in an effort to achieve full independence, but the autonomy they currently enjoy is unprecedented in recent history—and Texas secessionists hold the occasional march and rally, meaning that it’s more than just their political ideals that differentiate Texan separatists from their international counterparts.