Russia cuts off power supplies to Ukraine rebels

2015-07-07 16:00
(Maxim Shipenkov, AP)

(Maxim Shipenkov, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Kiev - Kiev said on Tuesday that Russia had cut off electricity to Ukraine's rebel-run regions in what appears to be another sign that Moscow is losing interest in plans to splinter its neighbour.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has gone through an extended spell without peppering his speeches with mentions of a "New Russia" (Novorossiya) made up of Ukrainian lands that were once under tsarist control.

The veteran Kremlin leader had fervently promoted the project while the separatists were gaining ground along Ukraine's eastern industrial heartland toward the end of last year.

But Ukrainian insurgents who claimed to be in charge of re-creating a part of the old Russian empire have in recent weeks complained of a sudden lack of interest from the Kremlin and a dire shortage of funds.

Ukraine's Energy Minister Volodymyr Demchyshyn said on Tuesday that energy-rich Russia had recently also stopped supplying electricity to the militia-run regions of Lugansk and Donetsk because bills were not being paid.

"We held fairly productive negotiations with the Russians," Interfax-Ukraine quoted Demchyshyn as telling an energy ministry meeting.

"We have been able to switch off four lines that ran from Russia to territories outside our control."

The energy minister said the cables supplied an allowance of $15m of power a month.

"That money was not being paid," Demchyshyn said.

There was no immediate response to his comments from either Moscow or the rebels themselves.

Chronic shortages

Their 15-month revolt against Kiev's new pro-Western position saw the rebels carve out a region about the size of Wales that is home to 3.5 million people and shares a 500km border with Russia.

But much of the region remains a ghost of its proud image as the economic driving engine of the former Soviet Union's second-largest state.

Most of the coal mines and steel mills have been either shuttered or cannot operate because of chronic shortages of electricity.

Kiev policy hawks such as Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk have also pushed through a raft of measures designed to erect a punitive "economic blockade" of rebel-run territory.

Yatsenyuk ordered Ukraine's power suppliers to halt all deliveries to the separatists on May 1.

Natural gas flows from the rest of Ukraine to the east have also been significantly lowered.

Russia had earlier promised to make up for the shortage by building extensions and branches to existing gas pipelines.

It remains unclear where those plans stand today. Kiev officials believe the fighters may be smuggling in small supplies of gas through hastily-erected - and considerably smaller - pipes that cross parts of the Ukrainian-Russian border under their control

Demchyshyn's comments came ahead of a new round of negotiations on Tuesday in the Belarussian capital Minsk aimed at ending a conflict that has claimed more than 6 500 lives. Efforts to stop the fighting seem locked in stalemate.

The EU-mediated meeting will see Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko's personal envoy speak to the Moscow-appointed negotiator in the presence of separatist representatives who are not formally part of the talks.

Read more on:    arseniy yatsenyuk  |  vladimir putin  |  russia  |  ukraine  |  energy

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.