October 19, 2016

Do Ukrainian Workers Finance the Russian Aggression?

Bohdan Sokolovskyi

In the Donbas alone, excluding the costs of the Crimea, according to many estimates (in particular the ones by the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine), Russia spends on active operations about 1.5 million US dollars daily. During the truce, these costs are relatively lower. So, for the year Russia has spent on the occupation of some territories of the Donbas about 500 million US dollars. On the other hand, Russia's fans in Ukraine lately have been saying that one should not complicate the lives of Ukrainian labour migrants, in particular by introducing a visa regime with Russia, because they send lots of money to Ukraine. In 2015 alone, they sent 1.2 billion US dollars. To get that sum of money into their hands Ukrainian migrant workers would have had to be paid mandatory payments (under Russian law) about 1,380 billion US dollars. Taxes and payments to the Russian state make more than 43 % of the calculated amount (13 % is paid by the employee directly into the budget as a tax, and more than 30 % is paid by the employer to various state funds as contributions). Besides, there is no mention that the Ukrainians will spend part of the salary on accommodation, create additional costs, which also remain in Russia. That is, only directly from the money that migrant workers forward to Ukraine, the Russian state gets at least 600 million US dollars in the form of taxes and payments, excluding additional costs and what is spent in Russia.

A simple comparison of these figures shows that the Ukrainian guest workers compensate “more than enough” for the Russian Federation's aggression in the Donbas. In other words, for the year the Russian Federation spends on the war in the Donbas about 500 million, at the same time getting from the Ukrainian guest workers more than 600 million US dollars. Therefore, the work of the Ukrainian labour migrants is more than profitable for Russia. And this means that Russia will not interfere with the Ukrainian citizens, in particular, if the Ukrainian side introduces the visa regime.

Among other rubbish argued by the opponents of the visa regime with Russia, is the suggestion that in case of the introduction of the visa regime, Ukrainian citizens would not be able to use directly the services of our consular specialists in Russia. This argument is proved wrong by the several known cases of the “security of our consul's contacts with Ukrainian citizens in the Russian Federation” — how they were not allowed to the detained, beaten, prisoners were hidden and so on. To put it mildly, the Russian Federation, despite all its commitments, does not guarantee Ukrainian guest workers consular services. So, the visa regime between Ukraine and the Russian Federation would not worsen our citizens' already poor living conditions in the same Russian Federation.

Of course, it would not hurt to find out and inform the general public thanks to whom Ukrainian citizens have been seeking jobs outside of Ukraine, in particular in Russia. At least, in order to prevent a similar situation happening in the future. After all, the majority of Ukrainian labour migrants are forced to do so, since for a long time now there have not been enough jobs in Ukraine.