Donbass Borderland

Gordon Jones

A few months after the e-premiere of Russian Hour’s New York to Donetsk & Back documentary on Off-Guardian, there’s a feature film about the new “unknown war” in Donbass.

A film, which in 2019 may seem perhaps too amenable to the idea that this is a Ukrainian internal civil war (rather than the West’s proxy war against Russia), in which Donbass has shown its Russian “DNA”. Yet even such a benevolent view of the conflict, where the other side (i.e. those who are with Kiev) are not dehumanised but are analysed, is still not acceptable to Western MSM, the UK or, God forbid, Ukraine itself.

The Welsh premiere organisers wanted to appeal to Britain’s own sense of history, which reminds us that John Hughes, a Welsh industrialist, founded the city of Hughesovka that later became Donetsk in Russia’s Novorossiya, thanks to a lucrative iron production contract with the Imperial Russian Government.

Does this historical argument count in today’s postmodernist (or rather post-mortem) West whose history has “ended”? Will the film’s nuanced approach be deciphered or will it be dismissed as Russian “propaganda” just because it’s Russian and the main character, a Donetsk People’s Corps’ volunteer, Anatoly, is way too charismatic and human.

One cannot but help recognise in him the character of the late Head of the DPR, Alexander Zakharchenko, killed by US-trained agents in Donetsk. Even the fact that a Ukrainian soldier, Andrey, is portrayed as a human too won’t matter to the film’s critics, this nuanced approach gets lost in the black & white monoculture of today’s UK and the West.

“Donbass Borderland” by the Director Renat Davletyarov, was premiered at Chapter Arts Cardiff as part of the April 2019 John Hughes Arts Festival, that commemorated his great industrial and philanthropic legacy, this year being the 205th Anniversary of his birth.

Russian and Welsh musicians including Artem Ananiev and members of Symphonic Brass Wales were also featured during the Festival.

Find more information on John Hughes, and the Festival on their website and Facebook page.

Both audience and Festival participants were greatly moved by the film, comments from the audience included:

It was harrowing, an interesting story of a people split (by war), it was great that there were all those different viewpoints”

A profoundly moving film, I thought the strongest message was the anti-war point … civil war is always the worst kind of war …. maybe that film should be shown to every politician in the West”

So little is spoken of this war … A powerful piece of film … it’s terrifying that a place that looks familiar is blown up like this … it’s happening in our own backyard”

This is ongoing (war), it’s recent, the people are still struggling”

The organisers hope that the film will be shown again in the West.

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Were there any reports about the film or the Hughes Festival in Western MSM? None, in fact there was total silence.

Nevertheless, such cinema premieres – however “small” – are still important as you need torchlight to see the vastness of a cave with the void that represents our media landscape these days. Those few who saw the film may start thinking differently, perhaps another Welshman, a new John Hughes, will realise, like his great predecessor, that it pays to do business with Russians (and not just financially speaking). And the likes of him will dismiss the ramblings of the UK and Ukraine as mere white noise.

The film is beautifully shot, it has a “Bertolucci” quality to its cinematography: in the finale a van with both Ukrainians and Donbass people rush toward the Russian border, vast beautiful fields burnt with the sun in the background.

Ultimately, this border (between Donbass and Russia) itself is a geopolitical nonsense, like a border between, say, Wales and England would be.

A sheer nonsense like the sign “the ruler of Ukraine” recently inscribed on the statue of St.Vladimir, erected in London by Ukrainian nationalists, who failed to acknowledge that the country he ruled was called Rus.


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Mar 3, 2023 2:41 AM

An experienced analysis of the situation in the Donbass and Ukraine in relation to Russia and the waning influence of the US empire.

John Gilberts
John Gilberts
Apr 23, 2019 6:27 PM

Excellent Helmer column on failure of Poroshenko by Ukraine’s big backer Canada:

Canadians Lose Ukraine Election – Chrystia Freeland For President of Galicia


“Chrystia Freeland, the Ukrainian-Canadian who is Foreign Minister of Canada, was at a loss for words at the outcome of the Ukrainian presidential election on Sunday. Instead she re-tweeted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s statement…”

Apr 23, 2019 5:35 PM

Zelensky’s stunning and crushing electoral victory over the western imposed political elite, is really impressive. He’d have received 90% of the votes not ‘just’ 75% if the people in the east of Ukraine, in Donbass had been allowed to vote.

Apr 21, 2019 9:10 AM

Protection of its warm water port at Tartus in Syria was a major factor in Russian intervention in Syria.

John Doran.

Apr 21, 2019 5:58 AM

Thanks for this report Gordon. Absolutely spot on.

No mention of this film nor the festival in Wales in the Guardian or other media – well I’ll go to the foot of our stairs…

Will definitely be watching this film.

There is however a whole crock of drivel for the Easter holidays in the Guardian most notable an article with comments on Nadya Pussy Riot Tolokonnikova’s new book.

A glance through the comments will confirm that the MI5 perception management “Project Hard Drive” at the Graun is now complete…


Although I imagine a number of the avatars are Luke Harding.

Apr 21, 2019 4:43 AM

The failure of western post modern post industrial society is they have no sense of history and lack any critical thinking skills. They rarely are able to put anything into context. For example slavic history.
Their is never any mention that the slavs originated from what is known today to be Kiev. Kiev and its environs, lt was known as the land of RUS. But hell little simple historical facts seem to allude us liberal western exceptionalist.
In the western liberal dystopia white is black and and intellectual honesty comes out of a Cracker Jack box.

Apr 21, 2019 5:46 AM
Reply to  falcemartello

The Middle Class reduction leaves people who struggle to keep head above water and rich counting money. Those with a historical conscience were the Middle Class, but from them also came the endeavours to change and improve. Not welcome.

Apr 21, 2019 3:11 AM

Interestingly Oz’s ABC ran an interview with a ‘Ukrainian academic based at an Oz University’ this morning who had been invited to give context on the probable election of a comedian to replace Poroshenko.
I expected the usual anti-Putin diatribes one gets from american agents of influence who tend to dominate among ‘academics’ from a nation whose sovereignty is in play the way Ukraine’s is.
This one was reasonably objective and pointed out that as Zelenskiy was pretty light on policy he had crowdsourced potential policies from among actual Ukrainian citizens and one which rated really highly was getting down and talking to Russophone Ukrainians and Russia about settling issues without any more conflict. She (the academic) maintained that the average Ukrainian had had a gutsful of war they weren’t up for killing friends, family and neighbours or paying through the nose for energy any longer.

If true it is hopeful, but of course it depends upon Zelenskiy winning and actually instituting the policy change. Both of those have to be considered 50:50 since I reckon Poroshenko will try to steal the election and whatever Zelenskiy claims to the contrary, the influence of oligarch Kolomoyskyi (he of “The constitution prohibits double citizenship but triple citizenship is not forbidden”) is probably strong over him. On the other hand the capitalist enterprises Kolomoyskyi is strong on: banking, media,steel, oil & gas, chemical and energy generally prefer peace to coin it large – yep there are exceptions but as Ukraine is an armaments buyer and end user more than a manufacturer it is likely that even the sectors considered to be more shall we say, belligerent or warmongering may persuade the bosses of Privat Group that they need to give peace a chance. Let us hope so, cos I’m sure some elements of the EU must be thinking even civil war in europe is just not a good look and ending the oppression of russophone Ukrainians is necessary.
God know what the Ukrainian nazis in the terror gangs and death squads will do when they have to confront a prez whose besties with a four be two but time will tell.

Apr 20, 2019 10:08 PM

I hope to see this film.

Ole C G Olesen
Ole C G Olesen
Apr 20, 2019 3:28 PM

Thank You for the reminder of a Film ..i will try to see .. when possible !

Apr 20, 2019 2:39 PM

A mature appreciation of the Donbass/Ukraine situation as it relates to Russia & the decaying US Empire.

John Doran.

Apr 20, 2019 2:45 PM
Reply to  jdseanjd


See article: US Empire Very Much Over Saker Interviews Dmitry Orlov.

John Doran.

John A
John A
Apr 20, 2019 12:17 PM

The Luke Harding echo chamber, aka Shaun Walker “I saw Russian tanks invade Ukraine with my own eyes but forgot to take any photographs’, has already dissed this film as crude Russian propaganda in the Grauniad. Taking the staunch Putin baaaaaad line, he insists Russia has invaded and blah blah blah, plucky Ukrainians. Risible.

Francis Lee
Francis Lee
Apr 20, 2019 2:55 PM
Reply to  John A

“I saw Russian tanks invade Ukraine with my own eyes but forgot to take any photographs’,

Really? And I saw fairies at the bottom of my garden.

Precisely at which point on the Russia Donbass border did the Russian tanks cross the border; what battles were fought and what towns fell to the Russian army? The only picture I ever saw in the MSM of allegedly Russian tanks crossing borders was in Georgia during the 2006 conflict when Russia crossed South Ossetia in response to Georgian shelling. This conflict was presented later in the western MSM as a Russian armoured column ‘invading’ Ukraine. Ukraine was apparently invaded by these invisible Russian tank columns along with the waves of infantry and helicopter gunships and marines wading ashore at Sevastopol. You see of course they had a cloaking device whereby their invasion of Ukraine (Donbass) became undetectable; doubtless an idea that got from the Star Trek episodes when those dastardly Klingons had perfected this cloaking technology.

Utter concocted rubbish, but what else can you expect from the MI6 controlled Guardian.

Francis Lee
Francis Lee
Apr 20, 2019 3:08 PM
Reply to  Francis Lee

I also forgot to mention that the Crimea, and more importantly the naval base of Sevastopol home of the Russian Black Sea Fleet since the time of Catherine the Great, had 16000 Russian service men stationed there and could expand this up to 25,000 if required. What also needs to be appreciated was that Russia paid the Ukraine a rental of $5 hundred million per annum in rent for the lease which would only expire in 2042. Moreover after the coup in Kiev in 2014, the Crimean population was under no obligation to obey any edicts from Kiev since the Kiev government was in their eyes illegitimate. Thus given the opportunity they voted overwhelmingly in favour with reunification with Russia.

Apr 20, 2019 10:52 PM
Reply to  Francis Lee

You’re spot on, Francis, Sevastopol is the only deep water port that doesn’t freeze this side of the Urals, it houses the bulk of the Russian naval assets, any Russian leader worthy of the name would have done the same, took the facility over after the Feb 2014 putsch in Kiev.

To lose the port would be disastrous for Russia, it would not have taken long for NATO to move in, which would have been the end of Russia’s independence, whoever controls the Crimean peninsula controls the western part of Russia, it’s where most of the Russians live.

Btw, Crimea is to Russia what North Korea is to China, the Chinese can never allow the Americans to move into the north of Korean peninsula for the same reason the Russians prevented NATO moving into Sevastopol.

Apr 21, 2019 5:15 AM
Reply to  Baron

Just one minor point there is no sea near the Urals. It is Russia’s only warm water naval base.

Apr 22, 2019 10:02 AM
Reply to  tutisicecream

Tutie, I don’t for one moment think Baron was inferring that there was a SEA near the Urals?? But that Crimea had the ONLY warm water port – THIS SIDE of the Urals. (Mountains running north to south down Russia?)
The only other semi warm water port is Vladivostock, which has to be kept free of ice with ice breakers for four months of the year.
So it is imperative for Russian Economy to keep this one available to Russian commerce.
The only reason America? NATO wanted it… was to prevent Russia trading with the West and strangle them into submitting to the WORLD BANK,
OWNED by, you know who???

Apr 21, 2019 11:01 AM
Reply to  Francis Lee

@ Francis,
Thanks for this info. I didn’t know about the rent and lease expiry date, which is very useful and will go in my files.
I see there is a new book out about Putin, by Mark Galeotti,called ‘We Need to Talk About Putin’ which dissolves the myth that he is a dictator but was legitimately elected, and shows that he cannot execute the government or even manage without the myriad officials, business men and opposition parties on which his authority and ability to govern depend.
Clearly he is the most accomplished, intelligent leader the world has ever seen to date. I admire him greatly and Russia has been so fortunate to have him as their head of state.. If anyone can bring world peace he can, unlike the misfunctioning puppet May and the Orange baboon Trump, who are concerned ONLY with their bank balances, and are total embarrassments and make us look like raving morons for even considering them as our leaders. Just once I would like to see them in a discussion without an ear piece or prompter. Putin is totally relaxed and open, speaks for hours and takes questions from anyone, giving honest and sometimes amusing answers. He always takes notes of any grievances that arise and takes them back to his committee for action…
and where necessary is extremely direct, like here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3GsDLrUieJg
And this is why I respect him SO much.
Putin controls the Oligarchs

Putin shocks a forum with his frankness.

John A
John A
Apr 20, 2019 6:06 PM
Reply to  Francis Lee

Believe it or not, Shaun echo chamber Walker claims to have spoken to a cowherd woman somewhere on the Ukrainian side of the border who told him she saw the tanks roll through and he reported this as gospel truth. Walker is yet another ‘I know which side my bread is buttered’ reporter for the Guardian.