May 26, 2022

Balkan Travellers

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The Russian military is conducting raids in the east and south

What is Donbass, this Ukrainian industrial bed that Moscow wants to “liberate”?

Donbass is an industrial area located in eastern Ukraine, which has been at the center of the bloody conflict between Kiev and pro-Russian separatists since 2014. After a setback in western Ukraine since the start of the invasion on February 24, the Russian military announced at the end of March that it would change its plan. “Release of Donbass”. As the bombings intensify there since Monday, Ukraine is preparing for a massive offensive on its territory.

  • Two unrecognized “people’s republics”

With the support of Moscow, pro-Russian separatists took control of most of the Russian-speaking basin and declared in 2014 the two separatist “People’s Republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk, whose independence has not yet been recognized by society.

Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized their independence on February 21, three days before the start of the invasion of Ukraine. “Security” According to him, Russian speakers were discriminated against by kyiv.

According to Ukrainian statistics, of the approximately 6.6 million people who lived up to that time in the Donbass, many have moved to Ukraine or Russia. The evacuation was accelerated from the beginning of the Russian invasion. No reliable statistics are available on its current population.

  • An industrial and mining bed

Donbass, abbreviated as “Donuts Basin”, is about 55,000 km long.2 – twice the size of Belgium -, without an administrative reserve, covers two Ukrainian regions, Donetsk and Luhansk.

It was an uninhabited area divided between the Crimean Tatars and the Ukrainian Cossacks for centuries. Its economic growth starts from the 19thAnd Century, under the Russian Empire, with the discovery of the first coal deposits. This area on the border with Russia has huge reserves of coal and metal ores, which became the industrial heart of the former Soviet Union.

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Until the 2014 war, Donetsk, the largest city in the Donbass, was the main metallurgical center of Ukraine. The highly urbanized area still has the most difficult working conditions caused by factories and mines. The presence of many Russian speakers is particularly relevant to the dispatch of Russian workers after World War II.