Donetsk and Luhansk, the self-proclaimed republics of Ukraine, are areas of Russian-backed rebels. The rebels have been fighting Ukrainian forces since 2014. After 2014, Kiev lost control of the two regions. Since then, more than 14,000 people have been killed in clashes between the Ukrainian army and Moscow-backed rebels. The two regions were recognized as independent states by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday.
According to Al Jazeera, the two regions of Ukraine bordering Russia are rich in mineral resources. The two regions are located on the northern shore of the Black Sea, bordering Russia. Donetsk was once called Stalino. It is one of the steel producing centers in Ukraine. The total population here is 20 lakhs. And Luhansk’s previous name was Voroshilovgrad. It is also an industrial city. The population is 1.5 million.
Denis PushlinFile photo: Reuters
Donetsk and Luhansk have large coal reserves. After World War II, many Russians came here as laborers during the Soviet era. That is the source of the arrival of Russian speakers here.
Pro-Moscow Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted in 2014 in the wake of protests in Kiev. At that time, along with Crimea, the Russians in these two regions became active. Crimea was then annexed by Russia. And the leaders of Donetsk and Luhansk demanded full autonomy from Ukraine.
The pro-Russian rebels declared Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic. The leader of Donetsk was Denis Pushlin. He was elected leader of the Donetsk People’s Republic in a 2016 election. However, Kiev has questions about this election.
Denis Pushlin was born on May 9, 1981, in the mining town of Makivka in eastern Ukraine. Dennis was born in the house of working parents. He graduated from a Russian public school in his hometown. He later studied economics. Denis Pushlin once served in the Ukrainian National Guard. On May 19, 2014, he declared himself chairman of the Supreme Council of the Donetsk People’s Republic. The pro-Russian politician was later elected leader of the Donetsk People’s Republic in 2016. He is a member of the United Russia Party, Russia’s ruling party.
Leonid PasechenikFile photo: Reuters
Luhansk is led by Leonid Pasechenik. The self-proclaimed leader of the Luhansk People’s Republic, Leonid Pasechenik. He was born on March 15, 1980, in eastern Ukraine. Pasechenik studied at Donetsk Military-Political College. At one point, he served as the regional head of Ukraine’s government security forces. In 2014, he joined the pro-Russian rebel group. From 2014 to 2016, he served as the chief accountant of the Ministry of Security in the rebel-held region. On December 6, 2021, he became a member of Putin’s United Russia party.
Attacks, clashes and Ukrainian military operations in Donetsk and Luhansk over the past few years have killed many fighters and rebel leaders. Alexander Zakharchenko, a rebel leader, was killed in a 2016 bombing of a cafe in Donetsk. He was the biggest leader in the conflict so far.
There is a peace agreement in the name, it does not work
Donetsk cityFile photo: Reuters
Since Crimea was annexed by Russia in 2014, the Ukrainian army has been fighting armed forces in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. In 2015, the Minsk agreement was signed to establish peace in the region. However, the agreement did not end the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Both sides are blaming each other for the breach.
The Ukrainian government and Western nations say Russia has instigated the uprising in the two eastern regions. As well as sending weapons and troops across the border to strengthen them.