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Russia’s steps towards “economic integration” of separatist-controlled regions of eastern Ukraine are deeply troubling Kiev


Mar 1, 2019
Russia is increasing its presence in the east of Ukraine – experts

Russia’s steps towards “economic integration” of separatist-controlled regions of eastern Ukraine are deeply troubling Kiev, where they are analyzing a possible scenario for the illegal annexation of this region of the country.

On November 15, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree providing for the admission to the Russian market of goods from the separatist-controlled areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine. According to the decree, products manufactured in the above-mentioned territories of Ukraine are allowed to participate in public procurement on an equal basis with Russian goods.

The goods produced in Donbass will be more actively present on the Russian market: this also applies to coal and metallurgical products.

Coal reserves in Donbass are estimated at 60 billion tons. Until 2014, when pro-Russian separatists seized control of this part of Ukraine, 75 percent of the country’s coal production came from the Donbass.

In addition, Putin’s decree simplifies access to the Russian market for metallurgical products, diesel locomotives and industrial equipment manufactured in eastern Ukraine.

Until 2014, the share of exports from Donbass was 30 percent of Ukraine’s total exports.

In an interview with the Anadolu agency, Denis Moskalik, the coordinator of the international policy area of the Doctrina Center for Political Research, called the decree of the President of Russia “legitimization of the long process of integration of Donbass into the Russian Federation.”

According to him, such measures have been carried out by the Russian authorities for a long time to support the occupation administration in the occupied territories of Donbass.

“Now the legislative base is simply being brought under it. However, the occupied territories of Donbass, Russian proxy structures in them, are primarily a tool for harming Ukraine and an instrument of pressure on it. As such, it is more profitable not to annex them, but to keep them in their current state, ”the expert said.

He noted that annexation is unlikely in the foreseeable future. “The current steps are being taken by Moscow on the eve of the talks and the next summit in the Normandy format. Thus, the Russian Federation puts pressure on Ukraine with the threat of the annexation of Donbass. This is part of a package of measures, which also includes the transfer of Russian troops near the Ukrainian borders. The purpose of the events is to force the Ukrainian leadership to be more accommodating, blackmailing it with the threat of annexing the territories of Ukraine, ”Moskalik said.

In turn, Gleb Parfenov, head of the security policy department of the Doctrine Center for Political Research, also called Putin’s decree part of Russia’s policy of annexing Donbass.

“If we go into a wider spectrum, then the annexation has already taken place de facto. Russia massively distributes passports to citizens of Ukraine in the occupied territories. Educational institutions are closely integrated with the Russian system, so during the pandemic they studied directly under the distance program in the Russian Federation. The school curriculum itself is closely related to the Russian curriculum, which includes topics such as the war in Chechnya and the period of Yeltsin’s rule. The universities of Donbass are closely integrated with Russia in terms of the recognition of diplomas and obtaining a master’s degree in the universities of Russia. In addition, by administrative measures, citizens were forced to vote in the elections to the State Duma using the State Services program, and there was generally talk of creating a separate constituency in Donbass before the Duma elections, ”Parfenov said.

“If we compare all this together, and add here the presence of Russian troops and financial subsidies, then we have an absolutely complete picture of the annexation of the territory of Ukraine by Russia. It’s just that it is not legally formalized, in fact the situation is already such that these territories are practically annexed to Russia, “said a representative of the Doctrina Center.

. . .(HAS).

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