JACKPOT: Donbass Goods Could Reach – and Change – the EU

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According to the Minister of Industry and Trade of the Donetsk People’s Republic, Alexey Granovsky, the DPR now has the opportunity to export its products to the European Union.

As Granovsky explained, thanks to the fact that the DPR’s Standardization, Metrology, and Certification Research and Production Center is now officially accredited in Russia, its products will be made to meet Russian standards and, by extension, can find their way into the European Union through standardized Russian trade. According to reports, more than 3,000 such Russian state standard certificates have been acquired by the Donetskstandartmetrologiia corporation.

In the Donbass republic’s minister’s words, “Our manufacturers will now be able to regain those positions that were lost because of the war.”

Opportunities such as these are particularly important to the fledgling People’s Republics of Donbass (the Donetsk People’s Republic and Lugansk People’s Republic), who since their independence from Ukraine in 2014 have struggled not only in the literal war which Kiev has waged upon them, but also in the battle for economic reconstruction and the building of viable state projects.

The latter endeavor has been a particular thorn in the side of the republics, and not only because of objective factors such as the war itself and the complexities of developing independent economies after decades of Ukrainian dysfunction, but also due to subjective problems such as corruption.

To recall, the dire economic situation of the Lugansk People’s Republic and the corruption which compounded such served among the main factors for the “coup” which gripped Lugansk in November 2017. The new LPR leader, Leonid Pasechnik, listed economic reconstruction as one of his main platform points, mass support for which was evident in the fact that the LPR’s parliament unanimously ratified a constitutional amendment allowing for Pasechnik, then Minister of State Security, to become head of the republic.

While the Donetsk People’s Republic has consistently remained ahead of the Lugansk People’s Republic in terms of statecraft, economic development, and socio-political vitality, this does not mean that economic growth has been off the agenda of necessities. This latest announcement by Industry and Trade Minister Granovsky is a sign of progress.

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After all, the ability of Donetsk to see its goods into Russian markets and ultimately into foreign markets is a touchstone for the state’s geo-economic viability, and ultimately a step towards de-facto recognition. As rich in resources and work ethic as the Donbass region has always been, the war has taken a heavy toll, and the immense task of forging a sustainable – and just – economy and integrating into the Eurasian economic space remains a formidable one.

The economic development which the DPR needs to see, however, could potentially be hampered by the lingering impact of Ukrainian oligarchs and local corruption. The progress that has (or has not) been made in the “nationalization” of Ukrainian oligarchs’ enterprises that was declared in March 2017 is unclear.

If the DPR is to truly be a revolutionary example for the Russian World, if the DPR truly wants to lead a Malorossiya project for the former Ukraine, or even if the DPR will remain a mere “statelet” within the Eurasian orbit locked in a “frozen conflict” whose sway is regulated by the larger geopolitical tug-of-rope, nevertheless, still, economic advancement is a pillar that its leaders recognize has to be built. 

In the bigger picture, it should also be noted that as the European Union continues to break away from the US-led Atlanticist project, European relations with the Eurasian space are likely to be more immediately driven by economic factors, with political and ideological trends coming later. Donbass goods in the EU would be a tangible step towards swaying the EU on the Ukraine issue, and represent one of many opportunities of economic cooperation which subservience to US geopolitics and the EU’s Atlanticist apperception have left untapped. 

Opportunities such as a DPR firm’s acquiring of trade accreditation in Russia with the possibility of greater foreign exports, are thus crucial indices, and reminders, of the significance of the economic factor in Donbass. What might seem to be back-page business news for others is front-page news for Donbass – and maybe Europe in the future…

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