If you suddenly decide to move to today's Luhansk (well, let's look at life wider), I will tell you what is profitable here now. Well, so that you go prepared and, so to speak, with all guns blazing.
Smuggling is the coolest thing. Imagination draws sunburnt pirates, raging sea, salty spindrifts… By the way, almost.
The smuggling is being carried in hands across the water border between Luhansk and territory of the legal Ukraine – over the bridge across the Siverskyi Donets. It is being carried in hands, clothes, hoods, children's backpacks. All that can be lifted and carried, rolled and dragged. Medicines, tires, spare parts for service centers, ordered home appliances and many other things that can hardly be imagined by a sober-minded person. Diapers, hair masks, cosmetics, bijouterie, toys, knitting threads…
If you want something (exotic, bizarre, strange), you can be sure there will always be someone who delivers you a strange order. The carrier takes for the risks and order volume. Starting from $4 for the lightest weight and higher, depending on the volume and possible risks – a batch of ten units is already being considered as a product for sale when crossing the border.
The carrier gets, brings and takes on all the burdens of the queues. If you have money you will get all the options in the world.
My friend orders gifts for the loved ones through Kyiv. She lives here in a quite civilized way. She buys on the Internet, meticulously chooses, pays, then delivers the goods to Luhansk through the carriers. No, not for sale, only for the family – silk bed sheets, expensive cosmetics, children's clothes. I think this is not so much a necessity, rather some kind of game that her life in Luhansk is not worse than the pre-war one. Like she still can order, receive and buy it all.
Another friend bought an air conditioner through Ukraine, and the carrier brought it to him in his hands. I know those to whom the carriers carried iPhones, threads for sweaters and branded clothing. I don't know just why they needed all this here, in Luhansk, and what I don't understand even more – whether it was so necessary in order to build a complex logistic scheme for the delivery of all this. But a usual life, in principle, requires all of this – good things, clothes, cosmetics, tires – the markers of well-being and the fact that even to be here is not worse than anywhere else.
If in essence, such "back-and-forth" smuggling flourishes on an industrial scale. Everything that is bought and what is in demand is being brought here – spare parts for cars, spare parts for home appliances and telephones, cars, food products of Ukrainian origin.
Things which come here in large volumes are being transported in cars by large batches. I don't know how. They say through Russia and "DNR". It is difficult for me to judge the benefits of these events, but I know those who have changed several cars in four years and were able to buy detached houses for themselves only by smuggling in for local supermarkets. More truly, having established channels of delivery of goods to the "republic".
What is most impressive is that not only everyone knows and sees it, they buy it and contribute to it.
If you ever crossed the bridge to Stanytsia Luhanska, you have seen dozens of industrial carts that carried fruits, vegetables, mushrooms and greens across the bridge, depending on season.
All this is so well-organized that all these perishables get to the counters of Luhansk markets with minimal losses – being fresh, just from the garden. Sellers do not hide: cucumbers and strawberries are from Stanytsia greenhouses. And people are looking for what they have taken for years, as what they are sure of, they are ready to overpay for it.
There is, however, something else. Over the past four years, many people have strongly disappointed in everything that at least has something to do with Russia. They tired of too frozen ground beef and by-products from Belarus.
And even with the attractive price for an inexpensive, but watery condensed milk, people are willing to overpay for high-quality Ukrainian goods.
This is already a certain mythologization among women – only Ukrainian laundry powder washes off and Ukrainian medicines cure. Imagine how difficult to deliver it here! Yes, with such difficulties, of course, the laundry powder will foam and wash off, and the anesthetic will anesthetize.
The acquaintance told me that in 2015, they carried parts by boat through the Siverskyi Donets for their service center. There were no established supply channels, but there were orders. It was necessary to look for channels for the supply of components to earn money. They cratered when such a carrier froze the whole batch of spare parts in chicken meat in his car, and the customs officers found the goods. Of course, it is extremely difficult to decide who was the whipping boy in this situation – the one who failed to carry, or the one who used services of such carriers.
In addition to quite legal, but smuggled things, they carry weapons across the border – from here to Russia. Also hiding in children's backpacks and car bottoms. What for? Someone said that for souvenirs to friends, although the explanation does not matter for customs officers at all.
I was looking for something overall for the house. It seems to be a special model of convectors. Having found them on the Ukrainian websites, the seller himself offered me those who deliver the selected goods to the "republic". That is, the politics in this case was not discussed at all.
When I said that the difficulties were related to my place of residence, all my contacts with the outside world were not limited to the fact that the seller from the territory of legal Ukraine temporarily did not work with the Donbass, but to that I was offered a scheme for delivering goods here and websites' addresses where these services were advertised. This is impressive as well – for whom is this war then?
And what do people in the uniform feel along both lines of demarcation, when already recognizable people shuttle past them with carts of vegetables and fruits, bags of Nova Poshta or tires on the shoulders of both hands, depending on season? Is there any logic in everything that happens, if, it seems, literally everyone around you has adapted to this life and already live somehow, transferring, buying, delivering and earning on it
Olha Kucher, Luhansk, for OstroV