Moscow might refuse from regular ‘humanitarian’ supplies to the occupied Donbas next year. Russian Finance Ministry received respective instructions during the staff meeting with Vice Premier Dmitriy Kozak, which took place on September 1. RBC wrote that with reference to sources close to the Kremlin.
The Ministry is supposed to ‘exclude humanitarian support for certain territories in years 2019-2020 from the 2018 draft federal budget.’ The open documents concerning the content of Russia’s state budget do not feature any mentions about ‘humanitarian support for particular territories.’ According to the quoted source, this formula means, in particular, financial support for the self-proclaimed ‘authorities’ in Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
According to the protocol of the meeting led by Russia’s Vice Prime Minister Kozak, the funds will go to cover the needs of infrastructure projects in Crimea and Kaliningrad oblast. That makes about 3 billion U.S. dollars in total, RBC reports; however, it is impossible to find out how much of federal budget funds is spent to support the pro-Russian militants in eastern Ukraine, the outlet wrote.
Besides, certain sources in the Russian government and the State Duma stress that even if the Cabinet ceases financial support for Donbas, the self-styled ‘authorities’ will still get some funding.
Funding of ‘people’s republics’ in Donetsk and Luhansk regions is fully classified and hidden behind secret decrees and the classified sections of the state budget, the source said, specifying that ‘humanitarian support’ could be merely one of the financing channels.
The hostilities in eastern Ukraine began in April 2014, when the Ukrainian military clashed with pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk regions. In summer 2014, Russian government sent first ‘humanitarian convoy’ to the militant-held areas of Donbas. Since then, dozens of such convoys crossed the militant-controlled section of Ukraine-Russia state border. The Ukrainian government has repeatedly claimed that sending trucks with ‘humanitarian aid’ to Donbas is the way that the Kremlin provides mercenaries with manpower, weapons, fuel, ammunition and other necessary supplies. On their way back to Russia, the trucks carry bodies of deceased militants.