Ukraine fears frozen conflict could yield winter energy crisis | Roman Olearchyk
At the Foxtrot appliance store in Kiev, the must-have product these days is a Delonghi electric heater.
“This is the last one left of 20 delivered to our store just a day ago,” Oleksander, a sales clerk, said, pointing to one of the Italian-made devices and noting that sales have increased fivefold from a year ago.
The bonanza is one indication of the panic gripping Ukraine as winter approaches and the country teeters on the edge of an energy crisis.
Imports of Russian natural gas have been cut off since June amid a price and debt dispute that has run alongside their military confrontation in eastern Ukraine. That has already prompted cold showers as the government has resorted to rationing domestically produced gas by cutting centrally provided hot water to flats.
The conflict is also now endangering Ukraine’s coal supplies. Mining activity in eastern Ukraine has been interrupted by the fighting while damage to railways has created transport bottlenecks. A Ukrainian army spokesperson this week accused Russian-backed militants of trying to seize railway hubs to control the flow of coal out of the region.
Petro Poroshenko, Ukraine’s president, is expected to discuss the energy situation with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, when the two leaders meet at a summit of EU and Asian leaders in Milan that begins on Thursday. Yet Kiev’s energy vulnerability is regarded by analysts as another factor that has given Moscow and the rebels it supports the upper hand in a conflict that has killed more than 3,500 people.
FULL ARTICLE (The Financial Times)
Photo: Andriy Baranskyy/flickr