The End of Minsk-2: The Social Dimension of Ukraine’s Artillery Bombardments


August 30, 2017 – Fort Russ – 

By Eduard Popov, translated by Jafe Arnold – 

Continued from Part 1

The draft legislation advertised by the Poroshenko Administration also features an important focus on the social aspect. According to the bill, Kiev proposes to introduce a series of “incentives” and “concessions” to the residents of the Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republics, presumably after these territories are regained by Ukraine. This condition is fundamental and begs our analysis. 

At the present moment, the residents of the DPR and LPR live outside of Ukraine’s social field. In summer 2014, they were deprived of their pensions and with Resolution #365 of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, they became barred from receiving their pensions even on Ukrainian territory. Control over the movement of Ukrainian citizens on the territories of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics is handled by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), which is de facto controlled by the American CIA. The SBU is required to transmit information on the political “reliability” of citizens to territorial directorates for labor and social benefits where people are supposed to receive their social pay outs in the parts of Donbass controlled by Kiev. In practice, this means standing in line sometimes two to three days just to receive their pensions – if they can. 

To clarify, the average pension in Ukraine is only 1,400 UAH (approximately $50). An average Ukrainian family consisting of two pensioners (the total number of whom is 12,297,000 out of Ukraine’s around 35 million people) living in a private household – not an apartment building – cannot even pay for utilities with both pensions. Moreover, gas prices for private consumers are set to be hiked by 19% as of October – and this despite the fact that the cost of gas for Ukrainian citizens is seven times higher than for DPR and LPR citizens!

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Ukraine’s Minister of Social Policy, Andrey Reva, has since announced that pension payments to some refugees have been stalled in accordance with the law which cancels pensions for internally displaced persons who have been in non-government controlled areas for more than 60 days. Such practice contradicts international and Ukrainian law. The people of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics contributed immensely to Ukraine’s national wealth and have paid into the Pension Fund and other social funds. Until March 1st, 2017, moreover, several dozen large and medium-sized Ukrainian enterprises operated on DPR and LPR territory and paid all the necessary taxes into the Ukrainian budget. Only when they refused to register with the DPR and LPR were they brought under imposed external management. What’s more, the restoration and fulfillment of all socio-economic commitments and ties is provided for in Point 8 of the Minsk Agreements.

The extracts from the legislation in question that have appeared in Ukrainian media seem to suggest that DPR and LPR residents will have their social payments (pensions, child care allowances, etc.) returned after the restoration of control over Donbass by the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Thus, under the guise of “incentives” and “concessions”, the Ukrainian state simply wants to renege on two of its obligations. This was partially confirmed on August 29th when President Poroshenko announced that social payments to Donbass residents would be resumed provided that the law on imposing external management at Ukrainian oligarch enterprises in the republics be repealed.

Yet re-asserting Kiev control over the DPR and LPR could happen only as a result of a bloody offensive, a fact which Ukrainian military officials have concernedly admitted. Given such a war flare-up, the number of pensioners and other social benefit recipients would be greatly reduced either as a result of them being killed or fleeing to Russia. This would partially allow Kiev to “solve” its deficit problem with the Pension Fund, which not coincidentally is one of the IMF’s main demands for providing loans to Ukraine.

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President Poroshenko is in effect speculating on the DPR and LPR’s citizens’ social expectations. The leaking of parts of Poroshenko’s plan to the press is part of an alternation of threats and promises to the people of Donbass. Moreover, Poroshenko is interested in looking like a peacemaker in the eyes of the Western establishment. Hence why it is no coincidence that talks on the bill in question were held just before Poroshenko’s visit to Washington. On August 24th, meanwhile, Poroshenko’s social demagogy showed its true colors when the Ukrainian army shelled Donetsk on Donetsk City Day on his orders. This rhetoric happens to be combined with ongoing talks on the most effective ways of using American offensive weapons, the supply stream of which is supposed to start soon. 

To be continued in Part 3…

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