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Luhansk Oblast

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.