Restoring Donbas: main events during the 16-22 February
0:57 / 23 Feb. 2015 / 418
The week after negotiations on the Minsk Agreement did not become a week of silence, however the parties of the conflict are still talking about the willingness to adhere to the agreements. In general, the interaction of official Ukrainian authorities and territories of Donbas, which are controlled by separatists, remains strained. NSDC of Ukraine endorsed the invitation of peacekeepers to the conflict zone. This fact was negatively perceived by representatives of the “Republic”. In addition, the economic blockade of the region has been strengthened by Ukrainian government. Besides, the delivery of humanitarian assistance still faces with difficulties at checkpoints of Armed Forces of Ukraine. Read more about the key events of the week in our weekly review.
Compliance with the Minsk Agreements
The week after the meeting in Minsk did not provide the complete ceasefire from the both sides. Nevertheless, by the end of the week both the representatives of the Ukrainian authorities and representatives of the DNR and LNR announced the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the line of the clashes.
Meanwhile, the National Security Council endorsed the initiative of the President to appeal to the UN and EU in order to ask to send a peacekeeping contingent in ATO area. It was reported by the National Security Council Secretary Alexander Turchinov. In his opinion, the presence of peacekeeping forces, primarily will encourage the fixation and localization of ceasefire breach. The representatives of DNR and LNR responded negatively on this offer. They claimed that the presence of representatives of the OSCE in Donbas is enough in present situation.
Perspectives of decentralization
One of the main issue of the negotiations between the parties is the matter of decentralization. Its importance was expressed by both official representatives of Kyiv and the leaders of the self-proclaimed “republics”. However, such statements were claimed not in dialogue format.
Thus, last week LNR stated that they do not exclude the returning of their territories to the Ukraine. In particular, it was stated by Igor Plotnickiy, the leader of the “republic”. He specified that such scenario is possible only under the conditions of carrying out the reforms related to power decentralization.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Parliament Speaker Vladimir Groisman assured that the constitutional reform on the power decentralization will be carried out until October 2015 and it will suit the residents of each Ukrainian region, including Donetsk and Lugansk region.
Intensification of Donbas blockade
At the same time, Ukraine continues to strengthen the blockade of problem regions in the East. For once, the infringements affected the energy resources. In particular, Yatsenyuk, the head of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, ordered to suspend payment of electricity for those plants, which produce it for the territories controlled by the DNR and LNR. In addition, the supply of gas in the ATO area was suspended. The company “Naftogaz” claimed that it is impossible to resume the gas supply to the ATO area until the complete ceasefire in Donbas.
Besides this, Vladimir Demchishin, the head of Ministry Energy and Coal Industry stated that the territories of Donbas, which are beyond the control of Ukraine, owed 11 billion hryvnia for. Electricity and gas consumption.
In current situation, it became aware of the decision of the Russian Federation to provide gas for DNR and LNR territories as a humanitarian aid. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev ordered “Gazprom” and the Ministry of Energy to develop a mechanism of such supplies. In the “Republic», it was confirmed that their territories are moving on the Russian highway. As a result, on February 19 from 15.00 Kyiv time “Gazprom” has begun to supply 12 million cubic meters of gas per day through gas measuring stations “Prokhorovka” and “Platovo” on these territories. The same day the gas supply in the ATO area was resumed by the Ukrainian side too.
Losses of Donbas and costs for its restoration
Losses of Donbas due to the military conflict on its territory are the issue of assessments without any significant decisions and actions. Daniel Lubkivsky, adviser to the head of the Ukrainian government, claimed that the total damage caused by military confrontation in Donetsk region is estimated at more than 1 billion hryvnia. He stated that at the beginning of February this year nearly 12% of the total housing area in the Donetsk region was destroyed.
In the meantime, “Zerkalo nedeli. Ukraine”, announced other statistics. The publishing house got the document with the damage assessment, which was prepared by Western and worldwide structure. According to preliminary calculations, only the first stage of the restoration of the liberated Donbas territories requires $ 1.15 billion.
In fact, immeasurably small sums are granted for restoration work. In 2015, the central budget of Ukraine will transfer 150 million hrn for the restoring of Donetsk region infrastructure. During the last conference, Donetsk Regional State Administration decided to send this money on restoring of residential premises affected by shelling.
Representatives of the central Ukrainian authorities refer to the international donor conference (scheduled for April 2015) during the assessing the prospects for restoring operations in the region. It was stated by Natalia Yaresko, the head of Ministry of Finance.
Another symbolic news in this topic is a statement of Yuriy Lutsenko, the head of the presidential faction “Block Poroshenko” in the Verkhovna Rada. He said that Fund for Reconstruction of Donbas would be created in Ukraine. It should be headed by a citizen of another country.
The humanitarian aid for the region
During the blockade of social payments from the Ukraine, humanitarian aid for the people of the Eastern Ukraine remains one of the key issues of social policy in Donbas. Last week, the German government promised to transfer 10 million euro in order to assist Donbas residents and the Czech Republic sent a humanitarian convoy of four trucks, two accompanying cars and one ambulance to Ukraine. In addition, the Czech government transferred Ukraine more than $ 4 million. At the end of the week, Donetsk received 62 tons of humanitarian aid from the UN, which consists from hygiene items, blankets, warm clothes, condensed milk, drinking water and medicine.
Despite of the willingness of the various parties to help Donbas residents, a part of humanitarian supplies face with problems of delivery due to difficulties in obtaining permits from the Ukrainian side. For instance, last week humanitarian aid from Rinat Akhmetov’s Foundation, as well as machines with UN marking, had no opportunity to get to Donetsk more than 5 days. In addition, the traditional problem is corruption. Last week it became known that the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine after the internal audit discovered evidences of humanitarian aid embezzlement by officials. There were discovered delinquency totaling more than $ 6 million hrn. in one governing body.
Life and work of displaced persons
The lack of decent living conditions in the East and periodical aggravation of military confrontation provokes the continuation of population outflow from the ATO area. Starting from January 28, 9,500 people has left from the “hot spots” of Donbas. This fact was reported by Natalia Bystraya, the spokesperson of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine.
Due to the exacerbation of military confrontation related to the clashes in the Debaltsevo area and Mariupol, February 19 Ukrainian government expanded the list of settlements, where residents can obtain the status of displaced persons and material aid. List was supplemented by Avdiyivka, Debaltsevo, Svetlodarsk, Mironovsky and Dzerzhinsk, townships Talakovka, Sartana and Lomakin Illichevsk district of Mariupol.
In present situation, transit towns throughout Ukraine keep on opening in order to provide temporary accommodation for the refugees. Thus, a transit camp for displaced persons from the Donbas, which can accommodate 544 people, was opened in Zaporozhye. It was inhabited by the first 15 families this week. Monthly payment for accommodation in this city for refugees will be 322 hryvnia.
In addition, the procedure for employment those people, who have left the conflict zone, has been simplified. Nowadays, refugees, whose employment history remained on territories beside the control of the Ukrainian government, can find a job without it. It was stated by Sergei Bolotsky, the head of the Donetsk Regional Employment Center. According Bolotsky, enterprises can grant a duplicate of the employment history to a citizen, who left the ATO area. In order to resign from past job, you just need to write an application, to notarize it and to send it to past employer.
Certain legislative changes, which have positive character, had an impact on education sector. For instance, the Ministry of Education extended the term of registration for ZNO to graduates from Crimea and Donbas until April 20 of this year.