How Russia Will Prepare Donbass and Southern Ukraine for Winter

NEW – July 31, 2022

Residents of the liberated cities of Donbass should meet the upcoming winter in decent conditions. Such an order was given by Vladimir Putin, recalling that the course of the special operation for ordinary people is associated with costs. How soon will the residents of the liberated territories get along with the Russian level of comfort?

On Friday, Vladimir Putin instructed Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin to help the DPR and LPR with the restoration of social facilities, infrastructure and homes – so that the residents of Donbass would meet the winter in normal conditions. “In accordance with our international obligations, we are providing assistance to the DPR and LPR, as you know, we are conducting a special military operation. But, unfortunately, this is also associated with great costs, I must say directly, with great trials for the people who live there, with destruction,” the president said. The leadership of the republics appeals to Russia to help restore the liberated areas, Putin stressed.

The Head of State and the deputy head of the government discussed the possibility of providing residents of the DPR and LPR with the opportunity to purchase housing using housing certificates and receive payments for repairs. The President also recalled that the DPR leadership had asked Moscow to assist in the construction of a multidisciplinary medical centre in Mariupol and a perinatal centre in Donetsk, and suggested involving the Federal Medical and Biological Agency in the project.

Khusnullin, in turn, spoke about the pace of restoration of Mariupol, which is proceeding according to the master plan for the development of this city approved by the head of state. According to the Deputy Prime Minister, the second largest city of the DPR can be fully restored in three years. “This year, 90 social infrastructure facilities will be repaired: kindergartens, schools, hospitals. We have already completed 85% of the survey of the entire housing stock – once again, everything that we can restore, we will restore everything. We will build everything that we cannot restore,” Khusnullin assured.

The Deputy Prime Minister spoke about plans to create a transport interchange hub in Mariupol, which will involve a railway station, port and tram lines. “We have fully developed the historical part of the city and plan to hold a competition with the participation of our famous architects. We worked out all the engineering infrastructure completely in the city, worked out a new embankment,” Khusnullin added. The Deputy Head of the Cabinet of Ministers pointed out the possibility of preserving some of the jobs at “Azovstal” without restoring harmful production. At the same time, he noted that the company has accumulated 40 million tons of waste – and this is an environmental problem that also needs to be solved.

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“Many of my relatives and acquaintances from Mariupol are already saying that specialists have begun to examine the condition of the surviving houses and determine further restoration work. Everyone is amazed at how quickly and productively Russian specialists work,” Larisa Shesler, chairwoman of the Union of Political Emigrants and Political Prisoners of Ukraine, told the “VZGLYAD” newspaper.

“The restoration of Mariupol in three years – the term outlined by Deputy Prime Minister Khusnullin – shows that the Russian authorities are soberly assessing the volume of necessary work in the city,” said Marat Bashirov, a political analyst and former Prime Minister of the LPR. “Three years means that Mariupol residents will have to live through three winters before the city is fully restored. A resident of Mariupol, who lives in an apartment building, will not be able to cope with how to survive the winter alone without state assistance. Therefore, various humanitarian projects are envisaged, providing temporary housing to Mariupol residents while their homes are being restored. Some fund of this temporary housing will be deployed in Russia.”

Khusnullin told the “Izvestiya” newspaper on Tuesday that more than 10,000 builders from Russia and about 1,600 units of equipment are working in the Donbass republics. In June, the Ministry of Construction explained: the main emphasis in the restoration of the liberated regions of the DPR and LPR was placed on social infrastructure, overhaul of housing, and preparation for winter. Projects for the reconstruction of the region are supervised by Deputy Prime Minister Khusnullin and Minister of Construction and Housing and Public Utilities Irek Fayzullin.

Russia is not only restoring what was destroyed during the special operation, but also solving the problems that the Donbass republics and the liberated territories inherited from the Ukrainian authorities, Shesler notes.

“The central water supply of Donbass has been a very difficult task for the last 15 years. The waterway came from the Seversky Donets. Now in Donetsk, Gorlovka and Makeyevka, the situation with water is very difficult. Until the water source is released from Ukraine, there will be no normal water supply. We need not only a new infrastructure, but also backup water supply sources,” the source said.

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Shesler is confident that Russia will restore order in the housing and utilities sector and especially in water supply in all territories from the Kherson region to the LPR. Serious problems in this area accumulated over the years, because Ukraine did not invest in the reconstruction of water utilities and the construction of sewage treatment plants, which led to poor water supply in a large area of the country.

“There is no centralised water supply even in Lvov. After the attack of the Ukrainian Armed Forces on the water supply system that came from Kherson, Nikolaev remained without water for a long time. Now the city is supplied with untreated river water, which finishes off the local water supply networks. This industrial water is so dirty that citizens cannot use it for washing,” says the head of the Union of Political Emigrants and Political Prisoners of Ukraine.

The Ukrainian authorities do not think now, for example, about such an urgent problem as the preparation of Ukrainian citizens for the autumn-winter heating season, Bashirov said. “If this is the case, the Russian authorities are forced to think about it,” the expert stressed. “But another two or two and a half months, and Ukraine will already be quite cold and damp. Residents of private houses with stove or autonomous heating can somehow survive. But if a Ukrainian who lives in a liberated or being liberated territory has central heating in their house, there is no one to worry about their problems, except from Russia.”

The fact that the situation in the housing and utilities sector is changing dramatically is evidenced by utility bills received by residents of the Kherson region. “Kherson residents gave more than 50% of their income for communal housing… For comparison, Russians spend up to 10%, and Europeans – up to 20%,” noted on her Telegram channel the deputy head of the Kherson regional administration Ekaterina Gubareva. Now, she emphasises, by the decision of the new leadership of the Kherson region, extortionate tariffs are over.

The electricity fee has been reduced from 3.46 to 2.12 rubles per kilowatt-hour, and for large families, foster families and family-type orphanages it will be even less – 92 kopecks. The tariff for cold water supply has been reduced from almost 34 rubles to 25 rubles per cubic meter, and from 33 to 12 rubles for water disposal. “For some items, tariffs were reduced almost three-fold. Reducing the cost of communal services and the introduction of Russian social security standards is the beginning of the path to a decent life,” Gubareva emphasises.

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Shesler confirms: according to her information, in Kherson and the second largest city in the region – Kakhovka, as well as in the temporary capital of the liberated areas of the Zaporozhye region – Melitopol, utility bills have already become much lower than in Ukrainian times. “Housing and utilities services are generally unaffordable for ordinary Ukrainians,” the interlocutor noted. “A cubic meter of gas, including delivery, cost 10-12 hryvnias before the terrible devaluation (about 18-20 rubles at the then exchange rate). Today, in the southern territories, where the population is still insolvent, electricity prices have been significantly lowered. Water prices have fallen by about three times. All this led to the fact that residents of Melitopol, Berdyansk, Kherson began to receive payments with reduced tariffs for housing and communal services.”

“The result of Moscow’s cooperation with the regional authorities of Russia in restoring the liberated areas of Ukraine will be the following: Ukrainian citizens will see a huge difference between the socio-economic policies of Moscow and Kiev, and they will accept help from Russia with gratitude,” Bashirov emphasises. “It will become clear to everyone that as soon as Ukrainian citizens turn out to be residents of the territories liberated by Russia, these people are no longer considered citizens of Ukraine in Kiev.”

On the other hand, the former prime Minister of the LPR noted, horizontal ties are being established between the liberated areas, the Donbass and Russian regions. “Many regions of Russia are taking socio-economic patronage over the liberated areas, helping to restore infrastructure there. Regional authorities, together with federal authorities, are doing everything possible to ensure that towns and cities in these areas are provided with everything that a person needs for a normal life,” Bashirov stressed.

Rafael Fakhrutdinov, Artur Priymak

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