Russia threatens to cut off gas deliveries to Ukraine

Russia threatens reprisals against Ukraine by threatening to cut off gas supplies, halt coal deliveries due to power blackout in Crimea

Photo by: AP (Archive )
Photo by: AP (Archive )

Ukrainian border guards secure an area blocking a road heading towards Crimea, in the village of Chaplinka, Ukraine, on Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015

Russia on Tuesday threatened to cut off gas supplies and coal deliveries to Ukraine if tensions rise up between the two countries after Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak accused the Ukrainian authorities of enforcing a power blackout in Crimea since Sunday, saying Ukrainian officials refused to help rebuild power lines.

The four electricity lines that provide Crimea with power from Ukraine were first attacked on Friday, as explosions damaged two lines and destroyed the other two.

Russian media cited that the two pylons in the Kherson region of Ukraine, north of Crimea, had been attacked by Ukrainian nationalists, while the Russian Energy Ministry didn't explain the cause of the incident.

​If the attacks - the identity of perpetrators is still unclear - are by Ukrainian nationalists, it will probably increase tensions between Russia and Ukraine. 

The Russian government announced a state of emergency in Crimea on Sunday, after the electricity power lines from Ukraine were blown up, ultimately affecting almost two million people. 

Russia added that emergency supplies had been turned on for urgent necessities and 13 mobile gas turbine generators were being used to provide electricity.

After Russia’s announcement, Ukraine authorities said that they would ban food imports from Russia and that this would cause damage to the reciprocal trade agreements between the two countries.

Despite Ukraine’s reservations, Russia continued its threats."Today or tomorrow gas deliveries will be stopped because of lack of advance payment,"  said Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak to Vesti FM radio.

"There are different options, political ones, economic ones, Russia delivers coal to the Ukrainian energy sector. We could, and maybe in this situation we need to, take a decision about halting deliveries" he added.

But the Ukrainian government rejected all of Russia’s allegations about its inaction to rebuild power lines.

"This is an absolutely groundless assertion and the quick reaction of the government regarding repairs on the power lines and its guaranteeing of security for people in the emergency zone is proof of this," Ukrainian official said in an email.

Moscow annexed Crimea on March of 2014, after Viktor Yanukovych's government in Ukraine was deposed following protests in Kiev. Also, Crimean Tatars occasionally protest Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

In September, hundreds of Crimean Tatars blockaded roads between mainland Ukraine and the Crimean Peninsula in protest against Russia’s annexation of their homeland.

The activists had set up roadblocks on two main highways leading into Crimea from Ukraine and trucks were being stopped at the nearby towns of Chongar, Chaplinka and Kalanchak.

Crimean Tatars, an ethnic Turkic community indigenous to Crimea, estimated to be around 300,000 strong, have mostly been opposed to Russia’s annexation of the peninsula from Ukraine in March 2014, following a local referendum.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev had said Russia suffered losses of 25 billion euros in total, which was 1.5 percent of gross domestic product and could increase several times in 2015 because of annexation.

TRTWorld and agencies