From Russia with Love, or new jobs for occupied Donbas

Roman Tsymbaliuk
11:40, 08 June 2016
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Don’t invite the "Russian world" to your homes. After all, it can actually come, with all the ensuing consequences. Two years of occupation of Donetsk and Luhansk clearly showed how quickly one of the country’s richest regions can be turned into a gray zone with no future and prospects. I remember the good old times when people said: “It’s Donbas that feeds the whole of Ukraine!” Donbas residents were free to say – being within Ukraine’s borders and under the Ukrainian law – that "no one has ever put Donbas on its knees," but, after Moscow’s “young republics” emerged, it became clear that there will be no chance to get back up. It is no secret that after Ukraine’s former leaders fled to Russia and the war started, the standard of living has fallen dramatically across all of Ukraine. However Donbas also faced a terrible fate of looting. By the way, not all industrial facilities were destroyed in hostilities. Many enterprises were cynically transferred to the Russian territory by the invaders. Some were simply cut on scrap – and also taken out to Russia. A space of fear an lawlessness was created in the occupied territories, a curfew is still being enforced.

"No one has ever put Donbas on its knees,” but after Moscow’s "young republics" emerged, it became clear that there will be no chance to get back up

But as they say, there is some progress in state building of pseudo-republics. Quite sufficient is the program of creating “new jobs” for the local population. There are open positions for tens of thousands of people, and a decent pay of RUB 15,000 is offered, by today's standards in Donetsk. Against the background of mass unemployment and minimum wages, that’s a real fortune. But there is also a caveat: the job is dangerous – such "huge" money is only paid in the “army” of militants.

Apparently, someone in the Kremlin is really tired of the fact that behind "miners and farmers" the ears and barrels stick out anyway, either of Buryat tank crews, or Ulyanovsk paratroopers who “got lost,” or the guys from Togliatti-based GRU special forces unit... A kind of a poor quality “civil war” that was, wasn’t it? Now the Kremlin masterminds seek to change the situation and create a true "people’s resistance." Meanwhile, Russia will continue, as before, to supply the tools for the war: tanks, howitzers and smaller stuff - fuel for military hardware and ammunition. And of course, the Russian officers will remain in charge of command. It is yet unknown, how this hybrid version will work in practice: among the uninvited guests from Russia there is a strong resentment toward locals. The units, in which the number of Donetsk and Luhansk residents is close to 50%, automatically become unreliable: they want to get their money, but they run in the bushes facing a slightest standoff with the Ukrainian troops. Well, they are not that enthusiastic about dying for the "Russian idea."

Perhaps the problem will be solved the old-fashioned way: behind the local collaborators there will be the Russian army, which, as we know, from time to time goes on leave by whole units, on tanks and APCs. So there may be a kind of a no-pass line sealed by the Russian troops. The main guarantor of "freedom" of Donbas from "Banderites" is located on the Russian territory near the Ukrainian border. This is the Russian army, ready at any moment to go on tour in Donbas. In fact, based on these military units and training sites in Rostov region, the “army” of the “free Donbas” is trained.

The main guarantor of "freedom" of Donbas from "Banderites" is located on the Russian territory near the Ukrainian border

There are also some other flaws in the job of a “rebel,” besides obvious risks. There is practically no chance to resign, as no other job can be found that is so well-paid. Locals are “proposed” to “work” until getting wounded or killed in action. This became especially clear to the collaborators from the liberated Ukrainian cities. While previously, they had been promised offensive on Kyiv under the cover of the “LDPR air forces,” now they can’t even go back to their hometowns behind the demarcation line.

And how much does this feast cost? Different figures are called, but many analysts agree that the price of occupation is somewhere between $2 billion a year from the Russian budget. The amount includes the payment of salaries for the "volunteers," maintaining the occupation administration and minor handouts to the local population. That's why "there is no money,” as Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev told the disappointed and angry Crimean pensioners… The money has all gone to war.

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