Staunton, August 27 – The Russian Spring portal has proudly declared that “the Luhansk machine-building factory is being evacuated to Russian Chuvashia,” an operation it said was taking place “as a result of extreme circumstances:” the factory supposedly was under fire from Ukrainian forces and much of it had been “destroyed” (rusvesna.su/news/1409122644).
It is likely that at least part of the factory’s equipment was removed by the trucks that Moscow had said were an aid convoy, and it is entirely possible that what Russian forces have done in this case is the first round of a broader program of destroying infrastructure in southeastern Ukraine so that Kyiv will face larger problems even if Russia withdraws.
According to the Russian Spring site, the decision to “evacuate” the factory – the term is the same one Soviet officials used during World War II when they pulled back industrial plants in the face of the Nazi invasion – was taken after the factory itself was damaged by Ukrainian artillery fire.
The factory is being restored in an industrial park five kilometers outside of Cheboksary, the capital of Chuvashia, the Christian Turkic republic in the Middle Volga. Workers from the Ukrainian plant are already there preparing to restart operations, something that is easier, the site says, because for 12 years, Lugansk Mash has been working exclusively for the Russian market.
Russian Spring says that the factory, which is to resume production on Friday, will provide work for “no fewer than 50” local people, even though most of those who had been its employees in Luhansk are on their way there. These “’former Ukrainians,’” the site says, intend to put down roots in Russia.” All of them will be given Russian citizenship and passports.
According to the independent Chuvash news service, Irekle.org, Russian officials initially planned to relocate the Luhansk plant in Rostov but then decided to reopen it near Cheboksary. All of its employees are being transferred there, with some 23 families already having made the move (irekle.org/news/i1920.html).
In reporting this development, Irekle.org said that “a war has been going on for several months” in Luhanska and Donetsk, a conflict in which the Ukrainian site reports “Russian soldiers are taking part” – despite denials by Moscow officials that its military personnel are involved in the conflict.