NEW – May 27, 2022
The new authorities of the Zaporozhye region have outlined a strategic course: this region, following the Kherson region, intends to become part of Russia. The return should begin after the liberation of the regional capital, which is still held by Ukrainian troops and nationalist battalions. What does reunification with these lands promise Russia?
After complete liberation from the Ukrainian nationalists, the Zaporozhye region will set a course for joining Russia as one of the regions of the Southern Federal District. This was stated on Wednesday by a member of the main council of the military-civil administration of the region Vladimir Rogov.
On the same day, President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on the simplified acquisition of Russian citizenship by residents of the Kherson region and the liberated territories of the Zaporozhye region. Document issuing centers will open in the neighboring Crimea, as the authorities of the peninsula reported to TASS. According to Rogov, the Zaporozhye region has already begun preparations for the transition of its residents to Russian citizenship.
“Now the administration is engaged in clarifying the lists of people and preparing infrastructure and employees for organising the issuance of Russian passports,” said a representative of the Zaporozhye civil-military administration in an interview with RIA Novosti. “I get a lot of messages from people asking where to apply for citizenship,” Rogov said. “They are written by ordinary residents of Melitopol, Berdyansk, Energodar, but most of all from Zaporozhye, despite the fact that the city is still, unfortunately, under the control of the Zelensky regime.”
The liberated regions of the Azov and Black Sea regions have taken another important step towards integration with Russia. Since May 23, a dual-currency zone has been officially introduced in the Kherson region – the Russian ruble is used in settlements on a par with the Ukrainian hryvnia. On the liberated territories of the Zaporozhye region, payment in two currencies has also been introduced, and “all benefits will be paid in rubles,” Rogov said. He stated that “the arrival of the ruble significantly revived the regional economy”.
But the main changes – in political status – will be possible only after the liberation of the regional centre, the city of Zaporozhye, since now Russian troops control two-thirds of the region, the representative of the Zaporozhye civil-military administration emphasises. Recall: if the Kherson region is currently completely liberated from Ukrainian troops, then in the Zaporozhye region, the northern third remains under the control of the UAF – most of the Zaporozhye region with the almost 800,000 regional centre and part of the Pologsky district. The administration of the liberated areas is temporarily located in Melitopol (where the Russian tricolour flag was raised on the main square on May 24). But “everything heads towards that”, that Zaporozhye will be liberated, Rogov is sure.
“The liberation of Zaporozhye with its enterprises would help to create complete production chains, which would include enterprises connected within certain production cycles,” political analyst Vladimir Skachko notes. According to experts, strategically important enterprises are concentrated in the regional centre.
For example, this is “Dneprospetsstal”, which in Soviet times provided metal necessary for tanks, aircraft, submarines, ships, and spacecraft parts, including the “Buran” shuttle. This is one of the largest steel plants in Europe “Zaporozhstal”, which in the best years exported products to 50 countries. “In addition, this is the famous ‘MotorSich’ enterprise,” said State Duma Deputy Mikhail Delyagin. “Let me remind you that Turkey’s interest in Ukraine has so far been mainly connected with the Zaporozhye industrial district.
Turkey was able to make its heavy ‘Akıncı’ drones thanks to Zaporozhye aircraft engines. Zaporozhye is an example of an engineering school that was well developed in the Soviet Union.”
According to Rogov, the imminent liberation of Zaporozhye and its enterprises is evidenced by the fact that Ukrainian nationalists “are already withdrawing their assets and families from the city”. However, we note that at the moment there are no major offensive operations on the Orekhov – Gulyai-Pole line, to which the Russian Armed Forces have advanced (active battles, we recall, are taking place in the Donbass theatre of operations).
But in any case, already at the first stage of the special operation, including the large port city of Berdyansk, the above-mentioned Melitopol – an industrial center and the second largest city in the region with a population of 150,000 people, as well as the strategically important Energodar and Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant – were liberated.
According to economist Vasily Koltashov, the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant can bring huge benefits to Russia, which in recent years has generated about half of all electricity produced by nuclear power plants in Ukraine, and at the same time – 22% of the total electricity generation in this republic. The Nuclear Power Plant should be controlled by “Rosatom”, and it should “enter the Russian energy system,” the source stressed. Recall that in mid-March, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin visited the liberated territories, including Melitopol. Here he stated that “the prospect of the Zaporozhye region is to work in our friendly Russian family.” Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant will work for Russia, but is ready to supply electricity to Ukraine, if it is paid for, Khusnullin said.
The port of Berdyansk will provide Russia with full control over the Sea of Azov, which will strengthen the integration of Zaporozhye with Crimea, economist Koltashov added. “Berdyansk remains part of the same system as the port of Mariupol. It will be logical if they both continue to act as one,” Koltashov is sure.
“In general, the Zaporozhye region is internally united with Donbass. They have common ties. Russia has previously had common economic interests with Zaporozhye, and now this region will open up new opportunities as part of the Russian Federation,” Koltashov believes.
“The Azov Sea region is an excellent agricultural and resort land, territories for growing oilseeds, grapes, fruits and vegetables,” said Ivan Lizan, head of the analytical bureau of the “Sonar 2050” project. However, according to the expert, nothing special should be expected from agriculture this year, especially since part of the territories is “near mines”, but next year it will be possible to sow wheat.
“Of course, the infrastructure in the south of Ukraine is terribly worn out, but with Russian investment, it’s possible to have a very good harvest there,” the analyst explained.
“For example, the Dneprovsky district of the Zaporozhye region produces a lot of greenhouse tomatoes and cucumbers. However, they are grown by farmers in their gardens and allotments. If we establish centralised purchases, create specialised associations, and help with energy supply, we can cover some of Russia’s needs for vegetables. Zaporozhye region, together with the neighbouring Kherson region, can meet Russian needs not only for vegetables, but also for fruits and melons,” the expert said.
“The more we consume domestically, the less dependent we are on exports. Deep integration with both Donbass and the southern regions of Ukraine will help the Russian economy,” the analyst concluded.
“Having returned to the native harbour”, the Zaporozhye region can regain the position of one of the All-Russian breadbaskets. The Azov black earth lands began to be actively developed since the end of the 18th century, when the former Wild Field was recaptured from the Turks and Crimean Tatars and became part of the Novorossiysk, and later Tavrichesky and Ekaterinoslav provinces. As Rogov reminds us, Zaporozhye has been an advanced part of the Russian Empire for hundreds of years.
Actually, the city of Zaporozhye has a very remote relationship to the medieval Zaporozhye Sich (located on the Dnieper island of Khortytsia in the current city limits). From its foundation in 1770 as a fortress in the Dnieper defensive line until 1921, the city was named Aleksandrovsk, most likely in honour of Field Marshal General, Prince Aleksandr Golitsyn. Melitopol – literally translated from Greek as “honey city” – appeared later, in the 1840s, when the eastern part of the”mainland Tavria” was actively developed. But it is curious that the name “Melitopol uezd” appeared much earlier, under Ekaterina II. Berdyansk was founded in the first third of the 19th century as a naval outpost, the organisation of which was entrusted to Admiral Alexis Greig, commander of the Black Sea Fleet.
The fact that the current Zaporozhye region has long been, almost since the Battle of Kalka, was the southern military outpost of Rus and Russia, is reflected in the coat of arms of Aleksandrovsk: “In a green field, two rifles with bayonets are placed in a cross. In a crimson field, a black bow with three arrows pointing downwards denotes the strength of our weapons and the weakness of the Tatar power.”
It is significant that the new government headed by the head of the Zaporozhye civil-military administration Evgeny Balitsky returns the old symbolism – the coat of arms of Aleksandrovsk from the time of the Russian Empire. The corresponding stickers began to appear on car license plates on top of the Ukrainian flag. In the same place, the abbreviation UA – “Ukraine” is changed to TVR, designed to remind of the Tauride province. According to Rogov, the return of the Zaporozhye region under the control of Ukraine is excluded. “The Zaporozhye region is a historically Russian territory. The return of the region to the control of the Kiev regime, no matter what they say, is excluded, as is holding negotiations with them,” Rogov said.
Mikhail Moshkin, Andrey Rezchikov
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