“The first question that was asked after the release was: “Is Russia here for a long time? Are you leaving or not?” With these words, experts describe the main questions that millions of residents of Kherson and Zaporozhye regions are now asking. By what actions and examples does Russia prove that these liberated territories have now returned forever to its composition?
Every day more and more residents of the Kherson region want to obtain Russian citizenship. At the moment there are about 1.5 thousand of them. They submitted applications to the only Kherson point for receiving documents so far. According to Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of the military-civilian administration of the region, more than 200 packages of documents are already in the works. He made it clear that there could have been many more statements. New document acceptance points should soon appear in Nova Kakhovka and the surrounding area.
Earlier, Stremousov said that the Kherson region, which was liberated from Ukrainian nationalists in mid-March, would continue its course towards integration with Russia, regardless of the position of Brussels and the EU’s refusal to recognize Russian passports issued in the region. According to the official, about 80% of the region’s residents want to become Russian citizens. In total, about 1 million people lived in the Kherson region before the special operation, and more than 2 million lived in the Zaporozhye region.
At the end of May, Russian President Vladimir Putin simplified the acquisition of Russian citizenship in the Zaporozhye and Kherson regions. Now the same rules apply there as in the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics. Thus, applicants are not subject to the requirement of a five-year period of residence in Russia, they do not need to confirm their income and level of proficiency in Russian.
No less excitement is observed in the Zaporozhye region. In Melitopol, a checkpoint opened this week, hundreds of people are lining up. According to Izvestia, the first passports will be issued in three months. Each request is sent for verification to the territorial office of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia. Like other liberated territories, the Zaporozhye region is gradually entering the ruble zone. In stores, at gas stations, they also accept Russian currency, and not just hryvnia.
Secretary of the United Russia General Council Andrei Turchak said that Zaporozhye and Kherson regions, where pensions are already regularly paid in rubles, and the rest of the liberated territories of the Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics, will undoubtedly become part of Russia.
On Saturday, it became known about the call to the seaport of Mariupol of the second vessel for the transportation of metal products. After demining and demilitarization, the port operates on a daily basis. At the beginning of the week, the Russian cargo ship RM 3 of the Slavutich type became the first vessel to leave the city after the liberation of Mariupol from Ukrainian nationalists. About 3 thousand tons of sheet metal went to the port of Rostov-on-Don. The ship arrived at its destination on Friday. From there, the goods will be transferred to the recipient after customs clearance.
Member of the DPR Parliament Vladislav Berdichevsky assured that the resumption of the port “is just the beginning.” “In addition to the delivery of building materials, the port will be used for the export of our agricultural products. The port of Mariupol is a very important link in the logistics chain and a serious help for the restoration of the liberated territory of the DPR,” the politician emphasized.
Donetsk political scientist Vladimir Kornilov recalled that Mariupol is a city of metallurgists, three industrial and metallurgical giants stood here – Azovstal, a metallurgical plant named after. Ilyich and “Azovmash” and “it is clear that a lot of all kinds of metal products have accumulated in the city.” However, he pointed to the statements of the Ukrainian oligarch Rinat Akhmetov’s company that “their metal is allegedly being exported.” “But I don’t know how they can prove it. Well, there are enough metal products in Mariupol. A version was also voiced that this metal was exported in accordance with contracts concluded before the start of the special operation,” the source added.
Crimean political scientist Vladimir Jaralla also talks about the resumption of economic ties according to the optimal schemes that were established before the start of the conflict. “Mariupol and Rostov-on-Don maintained close economic contacts with each other. And now this ship is like the first sign of a return to normal life,” the source explained.
As the expert noted, after the fighting, a lot of metal appeared in Mariupol as a result of destruction, the city and its environs are strewn with scrap metal – destroyed armored vehicles and weapons that can be used as recyclable materials. “There is also metal in Mariupol, the reserves of which were created before the outbreak of hostilities. It was stored in warehouses, and then it was delivered to the port and is now sent to Rostov-on-Don,” Jaralla explained.
The matter will not be limited to the transportation of metals, the region has a great economic potential. As the head of the DPR, Denis Pushilin, said, the republic will create a full-fledged merchant fleet. According to him, “part of the courts will pass into the jurisdiction of the DPR. Appropriate decisions have already been made on this. The flags that will be on them are also already clear. Earlier it was reported that now six foreign ships are laid up in Mariupol – “Tsarevna” (Bulgaria), “Azburg” (Dominican Republic), “Smarta” (Liberia), “Blue Star” (Panama), “Azov Concorde” (Turkey) ) and “Lady Augusta” (Jamaica). It can be assumed that we are talking about these vessels, which, most likely, have a Ukrainian owner, but a foreign registration (flag).
In the liberated territories of the Donetsk and Luhansk republics, peaceful life comes into its own.
As Yevgeny Gavrilyuk, head of the Noginsk rescue center of the Russian Emergencies Ministry, said on the air of the Rossiya 24 TV channel, pyrotechnic detachments are clearing the territory. 158 hectares were examined, 28 thousand shells were neutralized. The destroyed infrastructure is gradually being restored, the rubble is being sorted out. About 90 thousand cubic meters of construction waste were removed. Residents are regularly supplied with drinking and technical water, food, medicines, and medical assistance is provided to those in need. Also, employees of the Ministry of Emergency Situations are engaged in issuing lump-sum payments to residents.
In the liberated territories, people are driven by the guarantee of stability, Vladimir Jaralla points out. “The first question that was asked after the release was: “Is Russia here for a long time? Are you leaving or not?” Depending on the answer to this question, everyone understood their further behavior. After the tragedy in Bucha, this issue became extremely relevant for people, and when it was said from the lips of high-level officials that “Russia is here forever”, this gave people the idea that life would be built in a new way,” the political scientist explained.
Many were finally convinced of the onset of peace after the celebration of Victory Day and the memorial procession “Immortal Regiment”. “It was clear that for people it is a joy that they have returned to normal, to the life that is right. All the events taking place now in the liberated territories are connected with the establishment of that new reality, which they now define as their life,” Jaralla emphasized.
Kornilov believes that Russian reality “is still very different from the reality of Mariupol, Donetsk or even Kherson.” “It is enough to drive through the streets of Mariupol and listen to the peals of cannonades in Donetsk in order to understand that we will grow and grow to Russian reality. But, of course, the residents of Donbass and Kherson cannot but rejoice at the signs of the coming renewal and revival. For eight years, we have become accustomed to living under bombs and shells,” the source says.
But locals cannot but react to such positive signals as the reopening of the seaport of Mariupol, the arrival of builders and engineers instead of sappers, or the signing of an agreement by Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin in Luhansk on the participation of the Russian capital in the restoration of civilian facilities.
“If only not to stop on this path, which many residents think about. That is, there is hope. And this is what the inhabitants of these lands have been missing lately,” Kornilov explained.
Jaralla agrees that the situation is not easy. After Kyiv canceled SIM cards and blocked bank accounts, people in the liberated territories realize that Ukraine considers them outsiders, “but Russia and the liberated territories still have different experiences and perceptions.” Something similar happened in Crimea after 2014, when, when faced with a new reality, unexpected conflicts arose due to arguments about “where are we in a hurry, but do we need it, etc.”
“Ukraine has always been a weak state. And when the state is weak, then the right of the strong dominates. For those who live in Russian reality, it is clear that when there are certain orders, they must be followed. In the liberated territories, everyone will have to get acquainted with the new reality, so I would not say that this acquaintance will be devoid of certain complications, ”the expert suggested.