Ukraine is resuming electricity supplies to Russian-annexed Crimea, a state energy official said yesterday (7 December), more than two weeks after unknown saboteurs blew up power lines to the peninsula causing widespread blackouts.
The power cuts have left some 2 million Crimeans reliant upon emergency generators and caused severe disruption, exposing how dependent the peninsula remains on Ukraine a year and a half after it broke away to join Russia.
“We are in the process of resuming energy supplies,” said Igor Boska, regional head of Ukrainian energy utility Ukrenergo.
Russia’s annexation of Crimea plunged Kyiv’s relations with Moscow into a crisis further inflamed by a war between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian troops in eastern Ukraine.
Crimea depends on Ukraine for at least 70% of its electricity and the first phase of Moscow’s planned energy bridge between the peninsula and the Russian mainland is not due to be completed until later this month.
Following the power lines’ sabotage, pro-Ukrainian activists – including many ethnic Tartars who opposed Crimea’s annexation – prevented repairs by blocking access for engineers to pylons in Kherson, a southern region of the Ukrainian mainland .
Tartar leader Lenur Islamov said the engineers had been permitted to continue their work.
“We have allowed (them) to switch the line on,” he told the 112 television channel.
Islamov said the Tatars, a Turkish-speaking Muslim community with a long history in Crimea, would petition lawmakers to approve a special law banning all energy supplies to the peninsula.
The internationally recognised Ukrainian territory of Crimea was annexed by the Russian Federation in March 2014.
The event was condemned by many world leaders as an illegal annexation of Ukrainian territory, in violation of the 1994 Budapest Memorandum on sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, signed by Russia.
In the absence of de-escalatory steps by the Russian Federation, on 17 March 2014 the EU imposed the first travel bans and asset freezes against Russian and Ukrainian officials following Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea. The EU strongly condemned Russia’s unprovoked violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The vast majority of the international community has not recognised the Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol as part of Russia.
The peninsula of Crimea depends from electricity supplies from Ukraine. Ukraine is in turn dependent from Russian gas exports. But Russia cannot stop the gas supplies to Ukraine without cutting off Crimea as well.