WASHINGTON: Moscow city authorities on Wednesday renamed an intersection adjoining the U.S. Embassy after a Russian-backed breakaway territory of Ukraine, after the Embassy welcomed a previous proposal to call it "Defenders of Donbas Square".
In a decision published on its website, the city government said the name "Donetsk People's Republic Square" had come top in an online poll. Workers were already putting up street signs with the new name directly outside the Embassy complex, located near the home of the Russian government in central Moscow.
Russia says one of the reasons it sent its troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24, aiming among other things to prise the Donbas region out of Kyiv's control, was to protect its Russian-speakers from persecution. The previous proposal had produced a wry response from the Embassy suggesting that the "Defenders of Donbas" were the Ukrainian soldiers fighting Russian aggression. "The country should know its heroes," it said.
Russia alone has recognised the independence of two self-declared breakaway territories in the Donbas - the Donetsk People's Republic and the Luhansk People's Republic - which it supports financially and militarily. Ukraine and the West dismiss the allegation of persecution as a baseless pretext for a war of acquisition, and say the DNR and LNR authorities are no more than Russian proxies.
The Moscow city government said so many alternative suggestions had been submitted by members of the public after the original proposal was announced in mid-May that it had decided to settle the matter through a vote. Its statement said that another location in Moscow, yet to be determined, would be named after the Luhansk People's Republic.