Article by: Vitaliy Portnikov
The Donetsk industrial basin has died. That is the main result of the Russian occupation of the industrial region.
One could entertain illusions indefinitely that the potential of the Donbas will be restored and everything will be as before after the territorial integrity of Ukraine is restored. But these illusions have no relation to economic reality. Furthermore, with every new day of the occupation, the likelihood that any industry could remain in the Donbas decreases exponentially.
The reason for this is very simple — loss of markets and preferences. The production of Donetsk companies no longer reaches either Ukraine or the West. Russia does not need it either. It should be understood that before the occupation the Donbas was not only part of the industrial complex of Ukraine; it was part of the oligarchic mechanism. Enterprises could count on preferences, government assistance, preferential energy prices, bank loans. All this is gone now. What is happening is exactly what competent specialists warned against long before the Maidan — the death of the basin as a result of its integration with Russia.
Soviet leadership discussed possible closure of the Donbas mines still in the late 80s. Russia had eliminated its part of the basin long ago. In the Rostov Oblast, there are quite a few former “honored miners” who are now without a profession. Many Ukrainian mines remained completely or partly owned by the state because they could not have survived without support. And now they have ended up under the de facto control of a country that absolutely does not need them. A country that wants to keep them from functioning.
What will happen next? What always happens in such cases. Donbas will empty out. Many of its residents will be forced to look for new work and a new place to live. Those who have left will not return. Whether a new industry appears in the region will depend entirely on whether the region is returned to Ukrainian control. Because only Ukraine can guarantee investments and promote new settlement in the region. These options simply do not exist for the occupation authorities. The statement that the Donbas can be either Ukrainian or desolate does not paint a pretty picture. But it is the economic truth.