The Donetsk Oblast is a region in Eastern Ukraine that was partially annexed by Russia in 2022.
- 1 Donetsk – primarily known for its plant for the production of sparkling wine bottles the classic way. Former industrial heartland of Eastern Ukraine, now annexed by Russia.
- 2 Bakhmut – tour the Salt mine and taste the town's sparkling wine
- 3 Horlivka — the second largest city focused on coal mining and the chemical industry, with a statue of Vladimir Lenin still standing in the town square
- 4 Makiivka — an important steel industry and coal mining centre that adjoins the capital.
- 5 Mariupol – A major industrial center, climatic and mud resort. Part of the Pryazovia area
- 6 Yenakiieve — an important regional centre of coal mining, metallurgy, chemical production and manufacturing
The eastern and southern parts of the Russian-majority oblast declared its independence from Ukraine in 2014 as Donetsk People's Republic (DPR), following the annexation of Crimea by Russia and the Euromaidan protests in which Ukraine's pro-Russian government was overthrown by pro-EU protesters. The situation in Eastern Ukraine was until 2022 considered to be a "frozen conflict", similar to other post-Soviet breakaway states such as Artsakh, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Transnistria, and its sister nation, the Luhansk People's Republic (LPR).
The DPR and the Ukrainian government estimated that around 1,870,000 people (2014) — over 50% of the total population of Donetsk Oblast — lived in DPR-held regions. Of those who lived in the separatist controlled regions before the war, a third had left before the full-scale invasion of 2022, half of them to Russia, the other half to other parts of Ukraine.
In January 2021, the DPR and LPR stated in a "Russian Donbass doctrine" that they aimed to seize all of the territories of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblast under control by the Ukrainian government "in the near future". The document did not indicate any intention of the republics to be annexed by Russia.
The Donetsk People's Republic was recognized by few countries during its existence, even by Russia only in 2022 as part of its invasion against Ukraine. In September 2022, heavily policed referendums were held, in which the population was said to have voted to be annexed by Russia. Immediately after the referendum, Russia formally annexed Donetsk Oblast, including areas not under its control.
In 2014, Ukraine enacted a law making Ukrainian the sole official language. In 2020, the DPR similarly abandoned its policy of Russian and Ukrainian bilingualism, and established Russian as the sole official language. The languages are more or less mutually intelligible and many are bilingual in them.
As per the 2001 census taken in Donetsk, 74.9% of people spoke Russian as primary language, while 24.1% spoke Ukrainian as such.
As the battlefront crosses the oblast, you should choose what side to visit and accordingly enter from Ukraine or Russia. Access to much of the oblast may be restricted.
Before the invasion of 2022 foreigners were allowed to cross checkpoints into/out of the temporary occupied territories of Ukraine in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions provided they meet certain requirements including having an insurance policy certificate issued by a Ukraine-registered insurance company, or a foreign insurance company with an office in Ukraine or a contractual partnership with one of the Ukraine-registered insurance companies. The policy must cover the costs of COVID-19 treatment, observation, and has to be valid for the period of intended stay in Ukraine. See Ukraine Ministry of Foreign Affairs for more information.
Entering DPR from Russia is illegal under Ukrainian law, and will result on a lifetime ban on entering Ukraine.
As of March 2021, the Donetsk International Airport is not operating.
Travel from Russia
Many Russian tourists and volunteers often visit the DPR and LPR, may it be for fighting in the War in Donbass or going on a vacation in Azov. You can go one a metro ride from Rostov-on-Don to a border village in Rostov Oblast and then visit the border, though Russian border guards usually deny the request. Before the invasion of 2022, access was granted for journalism on the conflict in Ukraine or to join the fight. From the border, you would have entered the Donetsk People's Republic.
- Donetsk Botanical Garden
- Forged Figures Park
- Donetsk Regional Museum
- Donetsk Opera House
- Art Winery in Bakhmut — see sparkling wines produced in vast underground tunnels
The 1 Khomutovskaya Steppe Reserve, which is 35 km away from the Azov seashore near the village Khomutovka (about 150 km away from Donetsk city), has more than 500 varieties of steppe plants including rare and endemic plants, and mounds from the Mongol period.
Exchange rates for Russian ruble
As of January 2022:
Exchange rates fluctuate. Current rates for these and other currencies are available from XE.com
The Russian ruble is the principal currency used.
The conflict in the region is ongoing and violence may erupt at any time. See the article on war zone safety. Your government probably will not be able to provide any assistance if you run into trouble. Lawlessness, arbitrary arrests and human rights violations are widespread.