Restoring Donbas: the main events during February 23–March 1
0:55 / 02 Mar. 2015 / 417
Over the past week, ceasefire regime was established in Donetsk and Lugansk regions. During these 7 days, armed clashes had local character and were just a response to fire. Despite the lull and opportunity for recovery, the economic situation in the ATO area continues to deteriorate. The main reason for this is the region’s blockade, which was undertaken by official Kyiv. Read more about the key events of the week in our weekly review.
The future of pass entry system in the ATO area
“Silent regime”, which was set between the warring parties in the Donbas, traditionally increases the flow of willing to cross the ATO border. In the light of this, there was the positive news about the information that in the near future the number of points, on which it will be possible to get permission to enter the ATO zone, will “significantly increase”. It was told by Alexander Domnich, a representative of the State Fiscal Service of Ukraine. According to the representative of the SFS, the changes will affect on simplification of humanitarian supplies access to the conflict zone. According to Domnich, the procedure for submission of documents for import aid will be reduced from two months to two weeks.
Later it became known that the pass entry system in the ATO area is planned to be upgraded or even completely abolished. It was stated by Vasily Vovk, the Chief of the Investigation Department of the Security Service of Ukraine. He said that the Security Service decided to find a mechanism, which would allow civilians to cross the boundary line without permission, and to provide all security measures.
As long as the decision is not made, it was opened the center of permit’s issuance in Artemovsk, which was relocated from Debaltsevo. Those citizens, who plan to cross the border of ATO zone in two directions: Artemivs’k – Horlovka and Artemivs’k – Debaltsevo, are served here. Meanwhile Velikonovoselkovsky state administration suspend the perception of applications for the issue of permits during the 2 – 6 March 2015. During this period, citizens will be able to apply at checkpoints and Volnovaha state administration.
Despite the power’s promises about the simplifying of regime of crossing ATO zone borders, in fact, even special category of citizens feel the complexity of this issue. Consequently, on March 1, a new procedure for movement of volunteers in Donbas came into force. General headquarter passed a directive at checkpoints, directly in AFU units and volunteer battalions prohibiting the volunteers, as well as civilians (except for the local population with the relevant documents) to come round the front.
The decline in production and isolation of regional energy sector
Meanwhile, it seems that the production in many of the region’s leading industries decreases in Donbas.
Thus, in January of this year, coal mining comparing to January 2014 decreased by 62.5% on the Donbas territories, which are uncontrolled by the Ukrainian authorities. Regression is observed in metallurgical industry. In February 2015, comparing to January metallurgists of Donbas reduced average daily crude steel production by 20.3%. Due to stop of the major metallurgical and coke enterprises, iron production in the region dropped by 19.5%, rolled products – by 24.4%, and coke – by 27.3%.
Serious problems arose in the energy sector. Last week, due to the lack of coal in storage in the Donetsk region, Vuhlehirska power station stopped its activity. According to the Ministry of Coal Industry, on 1 January 2015 coal reserves of this thermal power plant accounted for 45 thousand tons, but they dropped to less than 1 thousand tons be the end of February.
Apart from the stopping of this thermal power plant, it is expected that the region will face to whole series of energy problems in the near future. Last week Coal Ministry announced the termination of financial settlements with 19 energy units that are located on the uncontrolled territories. This list includes such key objects of the energy of Donbas as Starobeshevskaya TPP (PAO Donbasenergo), Zuevskaya TPP (DTEK Vostokenergo), Zuyevskaya experimental CHP, power plant Yasinovka, Gorlovka and Alchevsk coke and others. Such step demonstrates the actual isolation of the energetics on DNR LNR territories from Ukraine. Meanwhile, on Friday there have been reports in the media that the LNR disconnected from the Ukrainian power system and moved to the supply of electricity from the Russian Federation.
Calculation of of destruction and losses
On the background of the steady silence regime, it is began to appear more information in the media about the estimation of losses incurred by the region during the conflict. Thus, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, the Prime Minister of Ukraine, announced the sum that would be required for the restoration of the territories controlled by the Ukrainian Donbas. According to current estimates, which were made by the Cabinet together with American USAID, this purpose requires about $ 1.5 billion.
Own estimates were voiced by “Ukrzaliznytsya”. According to the company, only the restoration of damaged railway in Donetsk region will cost more than 2.9 billion hrn. This is because of the 40% damaged railway tracks during the fighting in the region.
Estimates of destruction and losses in Donbas were carried out by regional authorities too. According to estimates of the Donetsk Regional State Administration, during the conflict in the region it was destroyed more than 10,000 objects, the total cost of which is estimated at almost 3 billion hrn.
In the context of this news, the information that International Conference on Restoration of Donbas (which is planned for April 2015) will not be called as a donor became symbolic. This was stated by the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Now it’s “Conference on the support of Ukraine.” This means that the question of international assistance attraction in the framework of the planned conference is no longer the primary goal.
Humanitarian aid and assistance programs
Those cities of Donbas, which are controlled by Ukrainian law enforcers, are provided by humanitarian aid from different sources. On Monday representatives of South-Western Railway delivered humanitarian cargo weighing 35 tons in Severodonetsk. The cargo included food, as well as essentials things – hygiene products, diapers, and household chemicals.
Moreover, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine was thinking about how to increase funding for the provision of targeted assistance to displaced people from 510 million hrn to 3.3 billion hrn. According to Gennady Zubkov, the head of Ministry of Energy and Construction, the government has already sent a relevant proposition to the parliament.
International structures also react to the the worsening of humanitarian situation in Donbas .
This week, the cost of the UN humanitarian program has been raised from $ 189 to 316 million.
In addition, last but not least, the Agency UN refugee agency stated that it planned to organize a project, which would help to make payments for the residents of ATO area.
Last week UK told about the selection of 15 million pounds as an aid for Donbas aid of 15 million. According to David Cameron, the Prime Minister of the UK, humanitarian aid from his country will include provisions, blankets, medicine and will contribute to the creation of temporary housing for the Ukrainians, who was affected by the military conflict in Donbas.