Fortress Region

NEW – July 7, 2022

Unfortunately, disputes about the role of Donbass in the history of Russia and in its future, caused by events, are usually conducted in isolation from historical realities. Therefore, first of all, it is worth remembering the origin and formation of this region, which will very clearly show the Russian essence of Donbass and explain why it was here that the Russian revival with weapons in hand and the fight for the new Russia of the 21st century began.

Donbass (Donetsk coal basin) is the name of the historical regions of eastern Novorossiya and the western regions of the Don Army, which arose during their industrial development. Currently, Donbass includes the main part of the Donetsk region, without its southernmost agricultural areas (but including the ports of Mariupol, Berdyansk and Novoazovsk), and the southern half of the Lugansk region (with the border along the Seversky Donets River). The territory of modern Donbass, as well as about half of the territory of modern Ukraine in general, was mastered by the Slavic population solely due to its entry into the Russian Empire in the last third of the 17th century. Descendants of the autochthonous nomadic population of the territory of modern Donbass now live on the territory of Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation.

Donbass is historically the very first industrial highly urbanised region in the former Ukraine (and one of the first in Europe), which arose during the first industrial revolution of the 19th century (its European counterparts are the Ruhr area in Germany and Newcastle in England). Donbass experienced particularly intensive periods of development in the 1870s-1900s, 1930s and 1950-1970s. Currently, despite the economic catastrophe of the 1990s, it remains the most developed region – the “locomotive of the economy” of Ukraine with the highest growth rates of industrial production in the country and the highest level of income of the population. By the mid-2000s, the first new political elite in Ukraine had formed in Donbass, representing the interests of developing capital. That is why this new elite was overthrown by Western intelligence services during the coups of 2004 and 2014 (“Maidan”), because it prevented the West from fully controlling Ukraine, turning it into a raw material appendage and supplier of cheap labour — in fact, into a disenfranchised colony of Western capital. But Donbass did not accept this and rebelled.

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The 20th century in the history of Donbass was characterised by continuous attempts to “Ukrainise” it, during the Fascist occupation and since the late 1980s, which had an aggressive and offensive, and in other periods – a milder character. These attempts were unsuccessful, as they came into blatant contradiction with the process of integration of the Russian cultural and linguistic space. Therefore, since the late 1950s, the USSR was forced to reduce the share of Ukrainian-language education and the share of printed publications in the Ukrainian language due to their lack of demand by the population. Attempts to “Ukrainise” Donbass have become absolutely hopeless, affecting only narrow groups of careerist intelligentsia.

Donbass was the main “donor” of Ukraine in almost all spheres of life: economic (the Donetsk region provided 1/5 of the state budget), social (the highest rates of job creation and improvement of the overall quality of life after Kiev), political (formation of a new elite), cultural (preservation of world standards in science, art, technology).

Donbass has always been and remains a specific creation of the history of the Russian World and the most important factor in its further historical fate. That is why Donbass has risen up against Ukrainian Nazism, and that is why it will win.


Vitaly Darensky

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