Russian economist and former economic advisor to President Vladimir Putin Andrei Illarionov has said Russia spends about 0.25% of its GDP, or US$2 billion, on the occupied territories of Donbas per year.

"There is no official information about this. But it's possible to estimate based on how much money the Russian budget spends on financing occupied Crimea – about $2 billion a year. Since the number of people in occupied Donbas is slightly higher than the population of Crimea and Sevastopol, bur per capita expenditure in Donbas is somewhat lower than on the territory of Crimea and Sevastopol, we may assume that the amount of subsidies for Donbas is also about $2 billion a year, " the expert said during an online Q&A session with the Ukrainian news outlet Glavred's readers.

About 0.25% of GDP allocated for the occupied territories is a significant amount, but it is not exorbitant for the Russian Federation's budget, he said.

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"This is a considerable amount of money, but this is not the one Russia cannot afford under the current situation. And this is not the amount that would be able to stop Russia's economic growth. It is noticeable, but it is not exorbitant for the current Russian budget," Illarionov said.

Co-chairman of the Prava Sprava public initiative Dmytro Sniehyriov gives a similar estimate of the costs.

According to his calculations, the Russian Federation has invested over $10 billion in the so-called "Luhansk and Donetsk People's Republics" ("LPR/DPR") over the past five years.

"Over the past five years, the Russian Federation has invested over $10 billion in the 'LPR/DPR.' This means it will never leave it on its own," he said.

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As UNIAN reported earlier, the Russian-controlled puppet statelets "DPR" and "LPR" on November 11 held sham "elections" of the so-called "heads of people's republics" and "deputies of people's councils."

The international community condemned the pseudo-vote.

The European Union, the United States, and Japan declared the "elections" in the occupied parts of eastern Ukraine were held in violation of the Minsk agreements.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry stressed that the fake "elections" in Donbas would not be recognized either by Ukraine or by the international community.

Following a visit to Singapore, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on November 15 that the conflict in Donbas could be settled only after the change of leaders in Ukraine.