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Donetsk: Better to Join the UK than Russia

People in Eastern Ukraine have figured out how to use their heritage for advantage against Putin and Russia.

April 6, 2014

Credit: Michael Moll (Kvedulv) - Wikimedia

Russian Federation troops may be massing on the border of the Russian-dominated Donetsk region of Ukraine, but look out for a real surprise. This episode doesn’t have to end with yet another Russian takeover.

Activists in Donetsk, the region’s capital city have a bold new idea for their economically depressed industrial/ mining city. Their idea shows that they have a mind for history as well as an eye toward remaining free of Russia.

And just what is their surprising idea? To join the UK.

Yes, you read that right. Scotland may want out from under London’s rule, but people in the Donetsk region want in.

In 1868, a Welsh industrialist named John Hughes signed a deal with the Russian Empire to acquire and develop an industrial hub in what is now eastern Ukraine. In addition to machines, Hughes brought hundreds of British workers with him, and they set about building a new community.

That factory town, which still has a prominent statue of its very 19th century British-looking founder, equipped with various symbols of industry, eventually became the city of Donetsk.
Credit: Michael Moll (Kvedulv) - Wikimedia

For the city’s Welsh patrimony in those truly open-minded times, look no further than the fact that it was first called – in very apropos fashion — “Hughsovka” (Russianized as “Yuzovka”).

On those grounds, those opposed to Russian domination have taken lately to calling it a historically British city, in a mockery of the increasingly expansive Russian reclamation ambitions in the vicinity.


Satirizing the question posed in the very dubious recent referendum in Crimea, activists have pitched a self-determination referendum for the city of Donetsk. Not to be outdone by Russian propagandists, they are giving “voters” even more — and more exciting — options than merely joining Russia or, alternatively, remaining in Ukraine.

In an online poll in the city, thousands of Ukrainian “Britons” voted overwhelmingly in favor of becoming independent from Ukraine for the purpose of joining Britain. Another sizeable faction said they would be happy to retain “broad regional autonomy” within Ukraine — but only if English were declared an official language in the city.

The Moscow Times reported that the poll rejected both Russian and Ukrainian claims on Donetsk, saying “For more than a century Russians have deceived us by saying that this is an indigenous Russian city, and Ukrainians [saying] that it is Ukrainian.”

The mock referendum’s slogan, according to a Google translation of a Russian-language site, is: “Glory to John Hughes and his town! God save the Queen!”

In other words, re-appearing nearly as suddenly as Crimea’s conveniently sudden “movement” for Russian annexation, Hughesovka is back. And it demands to be annexed by Her Majesty the Queen, not some Russian neo-tsarist figure.

One of the banners circulating on social media promoting the poll combines the city flag with the UK Union Jack:

You might think this would not be a good time to pitch (re)union with Britain, but in truth there’s no time like the present.

Now is the best possible time to make a bid for accession to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, due to the upcoming Scotland Independence Referendum, to be held this coming September.

Hughesovka – let’s call it by its preferred historic name, please – can position itself as a candidate to replace Scotland, should a slot in the union open up after September.

New currency, new health system

It’s a clear win for the Ukrainian region. By direct self-annexation into the United Kingdom, it enters the European Union (without ever leaving the banks of the Kalmius River!), as well as the NATO umbrella (which solves the Russia question).

And the city joins the mighty Pound Sterling, all while Scotland is left to fend for itself outside both the EU and UK without an established currency.

Plus, for all the flaws of the UK’s National Health System, surely it could boost health outcomes in the eastern Ukrainian oblast. Can Russia or Ukraine ever say the same?

In addition, an accession bid by Hughesovka right now would represent a clear win for David Cameron, Britain’s Prime Minister, and the unionists over in Britain. They can use it as leverage to further break the spirit of the separatists in Scotland, like bringing in scabs to break a labor strike.

Already all three major British political parties have banded together (with additional help from the European Union) to make it extremely unpalatable and economically suicidal for Scotland to vote for independence.

Offering annexation to the city of Donetsk – er, Hughesovka – would further demonstrate to those obstinate Scots that their region is eminently replaceable with another industrial center.

Why not go further?

And while we’re at it, why not seize the whole region – the Western analogue to Russia’s taking of the whole of Crimea on the strength of its ties to the city of Sevastopol? The UK would replace 80% of the population of Scotland in a single stroke.

As further icing on the cake, Hughesovka surely has a lower prevailing wage. That can only help UK companies’ bottom lines in these difficult economic times. Here’s the slogan for the economic development department: “Hughesovka: The cheaper Eastern European replacement for all of Scotland.”

In fact, this deal is looking so good that perhaps the unionists should just drop their “Better Together” campaign entirely and go all in on Hughesovka. Who needs Scotland’s North Sea oil and naval bases when you own your very own Ukrainian oblast?

And finally: If the Russian Empire is making a comeback on the Black Sea, it’s only right and sensible that the British Empire return to the region to counter growing Russian power.

Hail, Britannia!


Hughesovka – aka Donetsk – can position itself as a candidate to replace Scotland inside the UK.

By direct annexation into the United Kingdom, the Donetsk region would enter the European Union.

Self-annexation into the UK – and hence the NATO umbrella – also solves the prickly Russia question.

Mr. Cameron, who needs Scotland when you can have your very own Ukrainian oblast?