Pervomaysk - A Sea of Sunflowers
The town of Pervomaysk is situated in the Luhansk Oblast of Ukraine. It was previously known as Pertomaryekvka, but was renamed in 1938. The Luhansk oblast, shares the Donets Basin with the Donetsk Oblast. Both of these oblasts in Ukraine are mining regions. The history of Pervomaysk is torn between these industries that remain today, and the once feared silo that was destroyed.
The economy of the Luhansk oblast depends on its iron, coal mining, light industries, steel, chemical, electrical engineering and engineering industries. Its agricultural sector concentrates mainly on grain and sunflowers. As Pervomaysk is located in the Donets Basin, it was deemed the perfect location for major industries as this region began to develop with the discovery of the Donets Basin coal-fields. This discovery was only made in the 19th century, but became an important part of the economy.
But these industries are not quite the reason that Pervomaysk caught the attention of the international community, especially that of the United States of America. Pervomaysk was standing third in line, behind the United States and Russia, for the title of most powerful and dangerous nuclear weapons hotspot. On the outskirts of this mining town stood missile silos that were loaded with nuclear arms. These weapons included over seven hundred tactical warheads, SS24 missiles and SS19 missiles - quite a large arsenal for such a small town. Most of the warheads were facing the American shores. After years of negotiation with both America and Russia, Ukraine agreed to destroy their weapons of mass destruction. On 4 June 1996, the first sunflowers were planted where the mighty silo once stood. It was the end of one industry and the start of another. Many officers that were housed on the missile site base had new houses provided for them. The United States of America built two hundred and forty of these residences.
The town of Pervomaysk is proof that the past can be laid to rest, and that instead of empowering a country by the production of destructive devices, an economy can be built with a new outlook and new industry choices. Today, the fields outside the town are a spectacular sea of yellow, and the intimidating silo is just a memory.