Russia will not supply electrical power to the Donbass region of East Ukraine, an area controlled by pro-Russian rebels, which they call Novorossiya, or ‘New Russia.’ Ukraine cut off the electric grid in recent days to the area due to millions in unpaid bills.
The Kremlin reacted negatively to the Ukrainian decision and described Russia’s new role as a humanitarian mission. “Cutting the power supply to the Luhansk region is yet another step by Ukraine to push those territories away,” spokesman Dmitry, Peskov told reporters in Moscow, saying the move “contradicts the spirit” of the peace accords that Kyiv and the rebels signed in Minsk, Belarus, under Russia and European mediation in 2015, reported Associated Press.
The decision on electricity “falls into the trend of Ukraine shutting off Luhansk and Donetsk, and Donetsk shutting off Ukraine and moving closer to Russia,” said Alexei Makarkin at the Moscow-based Center for Political Technologies. “The Minsk agreements are not working, and each side waits for the other to get too weak to stand up for its interests,” reported AP.
Trade and infrastructure have been shared by both sides in the conflict as the Donbass region had been interdependent with the rest of Ukraine in several ways. Slowly, these ties are unraveling. Ukrainian veterans of the Donbass conflict, along with volunteers, blockaded railways into the region several months ago and severed key supply lines. The Ukrainian government has grudgingly backed the effort after initially opposing the industrial slow-down.
Ukrainian authorities said they were not worried about ending the power supply as it was obvious Russia would take over the burden. Russian officials replied the area could not send the money for the overdue bills as Ukraine had prevented wire payments from coming from Donbass.