Russia plans to spend 900 billion rubles ($12.4 billion) over the next three years on financial support in the parts of eastern Ukraine that are held by Russia-backed separatists, according to government documents obtained by the Donbas.Realities desk of RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service.
The funding described in the documents appears to largely target social spending in the parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions that have been controlled by the separatists since 2014, when a war against Kyiv's forces erupted after Russia fomented unrest following the ouster of Moscow-friendly President Viktor Yanukovych.
The areas held by the Russia-backed separatists have a combined population of about 2.9 million people, about 38 percent of them pensioners, according to the documents, whose authenticity could not be independently verified.
The planned spending described in the documents appears to represent a significant increase.
The average salary in the areas is currently 15,000 rubles ($206) a month and the Kremlin aims to increase it to 20,000 rubles ($274) by 2024, the documents said, bringing it in line with the neighboring Russian region of Rostov.
Oleksiy Reznikov, Ukraine’s minister for what Kyiv calls the occupied regions, estimated in 2020 that Russia spends a total of about $1.3 billion annually on salaries in the separatist-held parts of eastern Ukraine and Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula Russia occupied and seized Ukraine in March 2014.
The Russian Economic Development Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.