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First it was a cutoff of Russian natural gas, now Ukraine faces Moscow’s suspension of coal deliveries as winter approaches. As a result, Kiev has been forced to declare a state of emergency in its electricity market as it faces the onset of a dark, frigid winter.
Historically, Ukraine has been self-sufficient in coal, but fighting between government forces and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions has closed more than half the coal mines there and shut down rail lines needed to ship coal to power plants, according to Europe’s coal association, Eurocoal.
Because of the fighting, Ukraine had been relying on coal from Russia, but on Nov. 24 its largest energy company, DTEK, said Moscow had suspended those imports three days earlier. Ukraine has imported about 1.3 million tons of Russian coal since August.
Related: Ukraine-Russia Gas Deal Still Possible Despite Setback
DTEK said in a statement that the suspension came without warning and that Ukraine had made advance payments to its Russian suppliers under the terms of their contract. “We hope the situation will be clarified soon and supplies will be resumed in regular regime,” the statement added.
Until then, Ukraine will need to import between 1 million and 2 million metric tons of coal to compensate for the loss before the spring thaw in 2015. Meanwhile, the country’s hydro and nuclear power plants also are working hard to satisfy its energy needs, but Ukraine’s aging power infrastructure is old and probably not up to the task.
The situation is ironic because Ukraine has been one of Europe’s leading coal producers. In 2013 it produced 60 million metric tons of coal, but the fighting, which Western leaders say is fomented by the Russian government, has shut down 66 coal mines in eastern Ukraine, leaving only 60 more still in service. Until the fighting broke out, Ukraine used coal to generate about 40 percent of its electricity.
In an interview with the television channel 112 Ukraine, Dmitry Marunich, a co-chairman of the Ukrainian Energy Strategies Fund, said Russia’s suspension of coal deliveries comes at the worst possible time because Kiev has “little chance to find other sources to substitute for it.”
Related: Ukraine Facing Harsh Winter Due To Coal Shortages
Marunich said that Ukraine is already too busy contending with other problems involving Russia to devote the time and money to arranging imports from other countries. One such contract, he said, was signed with South Africa to help wean Ukraine from Russian coal, but South Africa cut off shipments earlier in November, citing political instability in Ukraine.
As a result, Marunich warned of power shortages and resulting rolling blackouts during the coming winter.
Making matters worse is the status of the gas Ukraine needs to import from Russia. Moscow shut off that supply in June because of a dispute over unpaid bills and pricing. In October, with the help of the European Union, Kiev and Moscow reached a tentative deal to restore gas shipments, but they haven’t resumed because Russia demanded that Ukraine pay for the gas in advance and Ukraine has yet to do so.
Ukraine has some gas in storage, but the amount it now holds would meet the country’s needs for only about three-and-a-half months.
By Andy Tully of Oilprice.com
More Top Reads From Oilprice.com:
Andy Tully is a veteran news reporter who is now the news editor for Oilprice.com
You clearly have dillusions - you propagate the common Russian propaganda that it is the West responsible for Majdan. Of course, it is necessary for Russians to say that because it is so convenient but it was Ukrainian revolutions by Ukrainians and in Ukraine. You also forget other things:
1. Janukovich fled Ukraine *before* anyone removed him from power.
2. Janukovich invited foreign power, Russia, to intervene in Ukraine without agreement of Ukrainian parliament - that makes him a traitor.
3. Crimea would still be Ukrainian if Russia didn't send "green people", who months later got medals from Putin, to capture it.
4. There would be no civil war if Russia didn't supply rebels with weapons and ammunition - you really want the world to believe that rebels captured all those tanks? Probably more than what Ukrainian army has. And didn't scare all Russians about "facist regime" - excuses excuses excuses but who ended up with Crimea? Russia. Who will end up with Donetsk? Russia. You can blame the whole world but who is expanding is clear to all and the whole world knows it.
We are now waiting for Russian "peacekeepers", just like Russia described Russian soldiers in Georgia, to enter and help with "humanitarian" effort.
Are you forgetting some small details:
1. Did Brussels/Washington annex Kosovo?
2. Who were "green people" in Crimea with guns and no military insignia? UFO ?
3. There was a referendum in Kosovo in 1991.
And finally but most importantly:
Did you forget the 1994 Budapest agreement where Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons and in exchange US, UK and *Russia* gave guarantees about Ukraine's borders and security? What are Russia's guarantees worth? Less tan toilet paper because that you can use in some useful way .... You think Russia can sign "guarantees" and then treat others like idiots?
Ukraine government is so corrupt the west (IMF) does not want to bail it. Years ago a bailout ended up in the leaders pockets. So far they are not passing laws and taking steps to change this. Most of the drama comes from extremists on both sides. Most of The people are normal, I have friends on both sides.
The US doesn't want to rule Russia. We wouldn't want a Russian naval base in Cape Canaveral either. The problem is the broken global agreement that borders are not redrawn, makes those that do it untrustworthy. The US, Russia and Ukraine agreed to respect borders if Ukraine gave it's nukes to Russia, and that didn't happen either.
They can't take the facts.
They are screwed and blaming the west!
Russia is safe with its oil. But the Western world may decide not to take (purchase) Russian energy in the future. The West may decide that it is prudent to spend more on alternatives to fossil fuels, and on alternatives to Russian fossil fuels, in particular.
It is the instrument of U.S. geopolitical game! Brussels and Washington support
Ukrainian fascists. They forget WW-II !
Look, it was Washington and Brussels who supported the Kosovo precedent.
It was they invention! What does it happen to Crimea?! There was referendum
in Crimea, there was not referendum in Kosovo!
I can see US is exporting "democracy values" to Iraq, Serbia, Afghanistan, Lybia.
And everybody see: the population of these countries are happy!
Check how many military bases Pentagon has outside U.S! These bases are the bases to promote values?! You promote "democracy values" with the help
of bombs and drones! But in reality they are not values but Washington's intention to keep the global control!
As for coal coming from South Africa, I recall something to the effect that a criminal investigation of government insiders had started in Ukraine because the coal they were buying from S.A. tripled in price by the time it got to Ukraine.
Well, then they should stop complaining about making ith through the winter...
I think it is they turn to help Ukraine with coal, electric power and gas! Why should Russia do this?!