The Donets Basin (Ukrainian: Донецький басейн, translit. Donetskyi basein; Russian: Донецкий бассейн, transliterated Donetskiy bassein), known commonly as the Donbas (Ukrainian: Донбас) or Donbass (Russian: Донба́сс), is a historical, economic and cultural region of eastern Ukraine and southwest Russia. A coal mining area since late 19th century, it has become a heavily industrialised territory suffering from urban decay and industrial pollution.
Donbas covers three administrative oblasts (provinces) in the east of Ukraine: the easternmost part of the Dnipropetrovsk Oblast around the city of Pavlohrad (the so-called "Western Donbas"), the northern and central part of Donetsk Oblast (the southern part is perceived to be Pryazovia coastland) and the southern part of Luhansk Oblast (the northern part is perceived to be Slobozhanschyna). In Russia, the northwestern parcel of the Rostov Oblast is part of the region.
Before the intensive industrial development, the Donbas area was a typical part of the vast Great Eurasian Steppe.
Donbas is a heavily-urbanized territory with several conurbation areas. It is reflected in the region's complicated administrative division which is characteristic of small "cities" (towns) being subordinated to larger neighboring "cities", and so on to higher levels.
"Donbas" refers to a larger supranational region including a part of neighbouring Rostov Oblast in Russia (the "Russian Donbass") also specialized in coal mining. This is explained by the fact that the Donets Coal Basin geographically extends into that area. But the "Russian Donbass" is of lesser economic importance compared with the part belonging to Ukraine since 1991.
Despite history of extensive extraction, the Donets Basin still contains coal deposits suitable for decades of further mining. However, estimates on overall longevity of the large-scale mining in the region vary due to mounting costs, international competition and environmental concerns. In the Russian part 32 coal mines were operating in 1999 and produced about 10 Million t, the number declined to 14 until 2004. The part in Ukraine produced 36 Million t coal in 1999.
In 1676, the first town of the Donbas emerged: Solanoye (now Soledar) which was built for the profitable business of extracting newly discovered rock-salt reserves. In 1721, vast and rich coal fields were found, which started the "industrial boom" which allowed the region to flourish into the first half of the 20th century.
According to linguist George Shevelov in the early 1920s the share of secondary schools teaching in the Ukrainian language was lower than the share of the Donbas ethnic Ukrainian population. Even though the Soviet Union had ordered that all schools in the Ukrainian SSR should be Ukrainian speaking (as part of its Ukrainization policy).
Surveys of regional identities in Ukraine have shown that around 40% of Donbas residents claim to have a "Soviet identity". In May 2014 Roman Horbyk of the Södertörn University concluded that "incomplete and archaic institutions" had prevented the Donbas residents who in the 20th century "As peasants from all surrounding regions were flooding its then busy mines and plants on the border of ethnically Ukrainian and Russian territories" from "acquiring a notably strong modern urban – and also national – new identity".
On April 8, 2014, following the 2014 Crimean Crisis, pro-Russian separatists occupying the Luhansk Oblast administrative building planned to declare independence as the Luhansk Parliamentary Republic, after other pro-Russian separatists declared Donetsk People's Republic in the Donetsk Oblast. As the Luhansk Parliamentary Republic ceased to exist, the separatists declared the Luhansk People's Republic and staged a referendum on separating from Ukraine on May 11, 2014. Neither of the referendums have been legitimized by any outside governments. Ukraine does not recognize the referendum, while the EU and US declared the polls illegal.  Since mid-April 2014 the pro-Russian separatists and the Ukrainian army are fighting the War in Donbass.
Occupational safety in coal industry
The coal mines of Donbas are some of the most hazardous in the world due to enormous working depths (down from 300 to 1200 m) as a result of natural depletion, as well as due to high levels of methane explosion, coal dust explosion and rock burst dangers.
Intensive coal mining and smelting in Donbas has led to severe multi-faceted damage to the local environment and residential comfort. The most common threats throughout the region include:
- water supply disruption and flooding due to the mine water
- visible air pollution around coke and steel mills
- air/water contamination and mudslide threat from the spoil tips
Additionally, several chemical industry waste grounds in Donbas have become undermaintained and pose a constant threat of major emissions to the environment.
- Donbass Arena
- HC Donbass—an ice hockey team based in Donetsk bearing the name of the region
- Kryvbas—an important economic region in central Ukraine
- Ruhr Area—a comparable region in Central Europe
- War in Donbass
- "The coal-mining racket threatening Ukraine's economy". BBC News. April 23, 2013. Retrieved September 18, 2013.
- Kurakov/Samofalov/Malikov/Kolomiets: Coal mining in the Russian Donetsk Basin. Coke and Chemistry, April 2010, Volume 53, Issue 4, pp 121-123 
- Games from the Past: The continuity and change of the identity dynamic in Donbas from a historical perspective , Södertörn University (May 19, 2014)
- Language Policy in the Soviet Union by Lenore Grenoble, Springer Science+Business Media, 2003, ISBN 978-1-4020-1298-3 (page 84)
- Soviet conspiracy theories and political culture in Ukraine:Understanding Viktor Yanukovych and the Party of Region by Taras Kuzio (23 August 2011)
- "Ukraine's Eastern Region Of Luhansk May Now Hold Referendum On Joining Russia". Business Insider. Retrieved 12 May 2014.
- East Ukraine separatists seek union with Russia, BBC News (12 May 2014)
- Ukraine crisis: Putin, Poroshenko meet in Minsk amid border violence, CBC News (26 August 2014)
- Grumau, S. (2002). Coal mining in Ukraine. Economic Review.44. Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com.erl.lib.byu.edu
- Panova, Kateryna (8 July 2011). "Illegal mines profitable, but at massive cost to nation". Kyiv Post. Retrieved 18 September 2013.
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- "The coal-mining racket threatening Ukraine's economy" by BBC News
- Why Donbass Votes for Yanukovych, historical overview of the roots, culture and character of the Donbas by Alexandr Osipian