In their report “Forecast 2022,” the experts of the Ukrainian Institute for the Future identified five crisis trends that will be particularly acute and determine the situation in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions (CADLR) this year.
Trend 1 – Russian passportisation. We should get ready for the fact that the Kremlin is inspiring a new wave of imposing Russian citizenship on CADLR residents and will issue between 300,000 and 600,000 Russian passports. The full-fledged “passportisation” will take place by 2024 when at least 70-80% of the residents of the occupied territories will have Russian passports. In addition, the Kremlin could again decide to use the CADLR residents to falsify the presidential election in Russia slated for 17 March 2024.
The Kremlin also needs Russian passportisation of the CADLR population in order to create additional problems for Kyiv in case of the formal return of CADLR to Ukraine. The presence of hundreds of thousands of Russian citizens in eastern Ukraine will be used by Moscow to demand that Kyiv legitimates dual citizenship of Ukraine and Russia throughout Ukraine. If Kyiv agrees, the metastases of Russian passportisation will pose a threat to all regions of Ukraine, especially those where the greatest influence of Russian media and Kremlin propaganda is observed. That is, now this problem is limited to the occupied territories, but after the formal return of CADLR to the control of Kyiv, it may swiftly cover the entire Donetsk and Luhansk regions, as well as Kharkiv region, especially since Moscow will facilitate this.
Trend 2 – Destruction of the economy. The closure of coal and other enterprises, forced into bankruptcy, will continue, and the largest metallurgical and coke and chemical enterprises will be transferred to the operational control of the Russian “investor.” The production facilities of these enterprises could be physically destroyed by sabotage or intentional disruption of production technology.
It is necessary to prepare for the fact that the CADLR economy will not just decline, but will be deliberately destroyed in 2022, as in previous years. The transfer of the largest metallurgical and coke and chemical plants under the operational control of a Russian “investor” and, in fact, Putin’s henchman Yevgeny Yurchenko, means that the production facilities of these enterprises could be physically destroyed (by sabotage or deliberate disruption of production technology) at any time.
Trend 3 – Environmental disaster. After the territory was occupied, the financing of measures aimed at solving environmental problems practically stopped. Almost nothing is being done to process waste heaps of coal mines, reclaim land, or clean rivers and reservoirs. In addition, there is systematic flooding of mine workings – a deliberate act of the occupiers, which is actually an environmental crime.
The Kremlin seeks to turn CADLR into a territory unsuitable for life and economic activity (due to groundwater poisoning and subsidence). By flooding the mines, the occupiers have already created almost 50 local environmental disasters in CADLR, which affect residents not only of CADLR but also of the adjacent territories of Ukraine. In the next few years, the occupiers could create more than two dozen such disasters, flooding the rest of the mines.
Trend 4 – Labour migration. On 13 September 2021, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation announced an initiative to include CADLR residents in the Russian state programme of resettlement of compatriots living abroad. It offers benefits, assistance, jobs, and, in some cases, even housing. However, people are invited to relocate to the regions of priority for the Russian government – the subjects of the Russian Federation that are part of the Far Eastern Federal District.
The professions in demand there are typical for Donbas: miners, metallurgists, turners, etc. The Kremlin encourages the able-bodied CADLR residents to move to the far east of Russia: from Yakutia and Chukotka to Buryatia and the Primorsky Krai. This allows Russia to provide its regions with labour resources, deepening the demographic crisis in CADLR.
Trend 5 – COVID-19 related deaths. The occupation authorities banned all COVID-19 vaccines in CADLR, except for Russian ones. At the same time, Russia is in no hurry to import its vaccines, artificially creating its deficit. As of 7 November 2021, a total of 9,613 COVID-19 related deaths were registered in CADLR. This gives reason to predict that CADLR will remain one of the worst hit places on the planet for COVID-19 in 2022. And this will also be one of the “gifts” to Ukraine from Putin.