June 12 2021
11:41 AM
banner-icon1 banner-icon2 banner-icon3


Previous story Russia's coronavirus vaccine makes inroads in conflict territories Next story


Story   Source

Published on February 28, 2021 9:09 PM

Political Stories Search Political Political Index
Ukrainian border guards at the checkpoint with the territories controlled by Russia-backed separatists near Novotroitske in the Donetsk region | Evgeniya Makymova/AFP via Getty Images
VILNIUS — In recent months, Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova have seen authorities of breakaway territories ask Russia to send its Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine to those contested regions. In some cases, those requests have already been granted.

In the rebel-held territories in Ukraine's Donbass — which have been occupied by Russian-backed separatist forces since 2014 — residents have been receiving the Sputnik vaccine since early February.

The jab has been arriving from Russia in regular vehicle convoys carrying humanitarian aid, according to Rodion Miroshnik, a rebel representative at the trilateral peace negotiations between Russia, Ukraine and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

The breakaway administration in Donetsk should get around 80,000 doses for the first shot, while Luhansk can count on 65,000 initial doses, he told POLITICO. He added that the rebel-held territories secured an agreement with Moscow to supply enough vaccination doses to cover a share of their populations that is "equal to Russia's regions."

"When the first stage of vaccination is completed, there will be a second one," Miroshnik said. (Like most coronavirus jabs, Sputnik V requires two shots, but as an adenovirus viral vector vaccine, it doesn't need extremely cold storage.)

His comments provide more detail following recent Kremlin confirmation that Moscow is sending the vaccine to Donetsk and Luhansk, which have a population of 2.2 million and 1.4 million, respectively. The Crimean peninsula, annexed by Moscow in 2014, also began a mass inoculation drive in December with Sputnik.

That's set alarm bells ringing in Ukraine. In February, the country's Deputy Prime Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said that if Russian authorities conducted "some kind of human trials with an unknown and uncertified vaccine in our country without our consent, then this is a violation of Ukrainian laws."

Sputnik has not been approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and Kyiv has banned its registration outright, but the jab has been given the green light in two European countries, Hungary and Serbia.

The authorities of Georgia's two breakaway territories, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, are also relying on Russian vaccine supplies, according to Russian state-backed media.