In fact, the integration of the Donbass Peoples Republics into the Russian Federation’s economy, culture, and educational system is inevitable. The complete isolation from the Ukraine led to a reorientation of production and logistics to markets in the Russian Federation. It’s a logical solution for developing the region’s industrial and employment potential. Today, the initial meeting of the Russia-Donbass Integration Committee took place in Yalta in the Crimea; it addressed issues of interaction of the DNR and LNR with the Russian Federation in all sectors of life. The meeting occurred in the ceremonial hall of Livadia Palace. LNR and DNR politicians, along with public and cultural figures, met with their Russian counterparts; the participants discussed in detail the issues of integration and the role of public diplomacy in the process.
The Donbass is Ready to Cooperate
DNR Head of State A V Zakharchenko attended the forum. He pointed up:
Ukrainian actions that started a total blockade only strengthened our faith in the correctness of our chosen course. Kiev’s aggressive actions led to a complete economic and transport divorce [from the Ukraine] that made the Donbass completely independent economically and ready for full-scale reorientation into the Russian market. The process of reorienting our economy will take some time, we’ll have difficulties in doing it, but we’ve already started the process. It’s in its early stages but it’s comprehensive and moving quickly. The blockade causes more damage to the Ukraine itself than to the Donbass; all that it does is to accelerate the process of its integration into the Russian Federation. Today, we’re engaged in restoring old economic ties. We’re going to the Russian market and using Russian raw materials. Already, we’ve sent our first batch of goods to the Russian Federation. More and more products made in the DNR go onto the Russian market.
LNR Head of State I V Plotnitsky said:
The Donbass is a special region with great industrial potential. The recognition by the Russian Federation of LNR and DNR documents demonstrates support for the people of Donbass and the basis for a new joint forward-looking relationship.
The Donbass Will Send Coal to the Crimea
Today, one of the first steps of a new era of cooperation occurred. Zakharchenko announced at the Livadia Palace:
The Crimea needs our coal and metal. The Donbass Republics need food and wine produced in the Crimea. I believe that our cooperation would bear fruit. We could ship tens of thousands of tonnes of goods. The Crimea and the Donbas have a common destiny.
Plotnitsky told reporters:
We plan to supply of “black gold” to the Crimea. Over the next two years, the LNR intends to send to the Crimea 3.5 million tonnes of coal. We’ve signed a contract; it’s in force. These things are happening already in the real world.
Prospects in Culture and Education
Natalya Volkova, Director of the Donetsk State Academic Music and Drama Theatre, said:
The Ukraine broke the ties the Donbass had with Russian regions. Now, however, we’ve begun the process of restoring lost dynamics, in particular in the social and cultural sphere. Since November 2016, all-Republic governmental organisations, trade unions, cultural institutions, and creative groups have been active in joint ventures with their counterparts from Russia. We’ve had about 160 working meetings already. The interaction between Donbass and Russian cultural figures is of great importance. We concluded cooperation agreements, developed new programmes and opened new points of contact.
Acting Rector of the Donbass Academy of Construction and Architecture Yevgeny Gorokhov said:
The DNR and Russia need partnerships and close ties. We offer to help people in the Crimea with training. The Crimea has a problem in training specialists in architecture, environmental safety, construction, and housing and communal services. We’re ready to help you to prepare such people.
The Project “Rossregion” on the European Model
Chairman of the State Council of the Republic of Crimea Vladimir Konstantinov proposed the creation of a project for closer cooperation between the Donbass and RF federal subjects following the example of the EU projects at a meeting of the Committee:
We can use this model. We can call this “Rossregion”. This is how we can conduct joint intensive work whilst maintaining the existing status quo.
Do note that the Russia-Donbass Integration Committee is a permanent public structure aimed at strengthening the process of humanitarian, social, and cultural integration of the Donbass with the Russian Federation. More committee meetings, including in the Donbass, will take place during 2017.
18 March 2017
DAN Donetsk News Agency