Europe’s Donbas: How Western Capital Industrialised Eastern Ukraine


Russian aggression in Donbas in 2014 drew Europe’s attention to this forgotten region. UkraineWorld would like to remind you, however, that the industrial potential of Donbas was built up in 19th-early 20th century and thanks in the main to Western European money.

In the 15th-17th centuries, these territories, previously known as the Wild Steppe, became part of the lands of the Ukrainian Cossacks. As a result of the Russian-Turkish wars of the 17th-18th centuries, these lands were fully incorporated into the Russian Empire. Donbas began to be industrialised in the second half of the 19th century.

According to historians, in the late 19th – early 20th century, more than 800 million gold francs from Belgium, France, Great Britain, Germany, and Switzerland were invested in the economic development of this Ukrainian region. It was part of the Russian Empire at that time.

Cities like Donetsk, Luhansk, Druzhkivka, Yenakiieve, Selidove, Mariupol, Kostyantynivka, Horlivka, Debaltseve, Torez, Kramatorsk, Lysychansk and other cities in the Donbas region received an industrial boost from Europeans during that period.

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