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Moscow announced on Tuesday that it would begin supplying electricity to pro-Russian rebels in the eastern parts of Ukraine, which has suffered from a blackout induced by Kiev due to unpaid bills, according to reports emerging from the area.
"Cutting the power supply to the Luhansk region is yet another step by Ukraine to push those territories away," Kremlin press point Dmitry Peskov said in Moscow.
Approximately three million people in eastern Ukraine will be supplied Russian electricity, though it is unclear when or how this initiative will be carried out.
Vladislav Deinego, the regional leader of pro-Russian separatists, said that territories under his control had begun to receive the Russian electricity through preexisting infrastructure.
Kiev’s Deputy Minister for Occupied Territories, Georgiy Tuka, said Ukraine had expected Russia to step in and provide power for those residing in the areas taken over by the Russian military and allied soldiers three years ago.
"This past night, we completely halted energy supplies to the temporarily uncontrolled portions of the Luhansk region," Vsevolod Kovalchuk, head of the Ukrenergo state power distribution company, posted on Facebook on Monday.
Russian hackers have targeted Kiev’s power grid in the past, which resulted in a blackout in parts of the capital. In fact, the first known power outage as a result of a cyber-attack occurred one year before that, when Russian hackers took down the power grid in western Ukraine in December 2015.
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The conflict between Russia and Europe-backed Kiev has spilled into natural gas pricing deals as well.
In early April, the Russian gas company Gazprom claimed around $50 billion from Ukraine’s Naftogaz during a round of international arbitration over gas pricing contracts, and the claim could potentially swell to $80 billion, according to Naftogaz chief commercial officer Yuriy Vitrenko.
By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com
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Zainab Calcuttawala is an American journalist based in Morocco. She completed her undergraduate coursework at the University of Texas at Austin (Hook’em) and reports on…