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Russia says to halt gas supplies to Ukraine, mulling coal cut off over Crimea

Russia’s Energy Minister Alexander Novak (C) attends an extraordinary ministerial meeting of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) in Tehran November 21, 2015. Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said Moscow would cut gas supplies to Ukraine on Tuesday or Wednesday because Kiev had not paid up front for more gas and might also halt coal supplies to Ukraine in retaliation for a power blackout of Crimea. Alexander Novak, in comments to Vesti FM radio station, was speaking as Russian-annexed Crimea continued to rely on emergency generators to meet its basic power needs after unknown saboteurs blew up electricity pylons supplying the peninsula with electricity over the weekend. Pro-Ukrainian activists have so far prevented repairs to the damaged pylons and associated power lines. "Today or tomorrow gas deliveries will be stopped because of lack of advance payment," said Novak, saying Ukraine was in any case using very little Russian gas. […]

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Ukraine Says Will Restore Power to Crimea After Pylons Blown Up

KIEV, Ukraine—Ukraine said Monday it would restore electricity to Russian-annexed Crimea within three days after pylons were blown up, but appeared to make a major concession to activists blocking repair work by imposing a temporary ban on all commercial traffic to the contested region. Pylons supplying electricity to Crimea from southern Ukraine were blown up over the weekend , leaving much of the peninsula without power. While the Ukrainian Interior Ministry still hadn’t identified suspects in the explosions, pro-Ukrainian activists—many of them from the minority Muslim community of Crimean Tatars—continued to block repair works on the pylons Monday. “We are prepared to repair the power lines within 72 hours,” Ukraine’s Energy Minister Volodymyr Demchyshyn told the Interfax news agency. “At this time, workers are unable to conduct repair works; explosives have been discovered at those [power] lines.” The activists have staked out the border between mainland Ukraine and Crimea […]

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State of Emergency Declared in Crimea

KIEV—Authorities declared a state of emergency on Sunday in Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula annexed by Russia last year, after pylons supplying energy to the territory from Ukraine were blown up. Russia’s Energy Ministry said almost two million people had been left without power. The local energy ministry said that between 20% and 30% of the peninsula was supplied with electricity, almost half of that by generators. Russian media outlets reported that pylons in the southern Ukrainian region of Kherson had been blown up by pro-Ukrainian activists. The Russian ministry didn’t mention the cause of the outage. The Ukrainian Interior Ministry confirmed that the pylons had been blown up and pledged to help facilitate repair work. Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine last year , and the territory still receives 85% of its water and 80% of its electricity from mainland Ukraine. The U.S. and Europe imposed trade sanctions on […]

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Ukraine looks to shed dependence on Russian LPG

A high-mountain gas compressor station is seen near the village of Volovets, western Ukraine, October 7, 2015. Ukraine, an important consumer of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), is tentatively turning to Western suppliers as it aims to wean itself off Russian and Belarusian imports. Political strife between Ukraine and Russia means there is a risk of disruption, or a complete halt, of Russian LPG supplies as has happened with natural gas in the past, traders say. Consumption of propane and butane in Ukraine is growing at a rate of 15 percent a year on average and analysts forecast a 60 percent increase to 1.6 million tonnes by 2020. They expect the share of imported LPG to rise to 80 percent from 60 percent now. LPG is becoming more popular with motorists as it has been 40 to 50 percent cheaper than gasoline throughout 2015, market participants say. Russia and Belarus […]

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Ukraine looks to shed dependence on Russian LPG

Ukraine, an important consumer of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), is tentatively turning to Western suppliers as it aims to wean itself off Russian and Belarusian imports. Political strife between Ukraine and Russia means there is a risk of disruption, or a complete halt, of Russian LPG supplies as has happened with natural gas in the past, traders say. Consumption of propane and butane in Ukraine is growing at a rate of 15 percent a year on average and analysts forecast a 60 percent increase to 1.6 million tonnes by 2020. They expect the share of imported LPG to rise to 80 percent from 60 percent now. LPG is becoming more popular with motorists as it has been 40 to 50 percent cheaper than gasoline throughout 2015, market participants say. Russia and Belarus account for over 90 percent of LPG imports but Ukraine has recently made trial purchases in eastern […]

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Sounds of War Recede to Background in an Eastern Ukraine City

Continue reading the main story Slide Show Slide Show|10 Photos The New Normal in Mariupol The New Normal in Mariupol CreditBrendan Hoffman for The New York Times MARIUPOL, Ukraine — While his children played a popular Russian card game called “Fool ” on a sand-flecked blanket, beside a razor-wire fence warning “Do Not Enter — Mines,” Sergei Sovyak reflected on what has become of his battered, seaside city. “These days, the war is happening on a kind of political chessboard,” said Mr. Sovyak, a metallurgist. “It has become a conflict in the mind. In reality, in everyday life, there is no war anymore.” There is no doubt that life has changed considerably in this rusting industrial port on the Sea of Azov. Earlier this year, a fierce separatist offensive , backed by Moscow, threatened to overrun the city and create a land bridge connecting Russia with the Crimean Peninsula […]

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Ukraine Sees Signs Truce Can Last as Putin Juggles War and Peace

As Vladimir Putin’s bombing campaign in Syria enters a fourth week, Ukrainian officials are increasingly hopeful the country’s cease-fire with pro-Russian separatists will lead to a lasting peace. The financial penalties the U.S. and EU imposed on Russia for backing the insurgency finally appear to be curbing’s Putin’s appetite for the rebellion, according to Borys Lozhkin, President Petro Poroshenko’s chief of staff. “Putin wants sanctions lifted as soon as possible, so he’s showing readiness to implement Minsk II,” Lozhkin said in an interview in Kiev, referring to the second truce agreement Ukraine reached with rebel leaders and Russia, in neighboring Belarus in February. If the accord holds, Ukraine will meet one of Russia’s key demands — passing constitutional changes giving regions more autonomy — but probably not until December, when Putin’s intentions become more clear, Lozhkin said. “We’ll only know in a month or two if Putin’s readiness for […]

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Gazprom Restarts Gas Deliveries to Ukraine

KIEV, Ukraine—Russian state natural-gas company PAO Gazprom resumed deliveries to Ukraine on Monday, after halting exports in July, reducing the risk of disruption to supplies to the rest of Europe this winter. Deliveries were resumed after Ukraine paid $234 million of a total $500 million prepayment expected for gas in October, Gazprom chief executive Alexei Miller said. Ukrainian Energy Minister Volodymyr Demchyshyn confirmed to Interfax news agency that deliveries had resumed early on Monday. Ukraine and Russia finalized, but didn’t yet sign, a preliminary gas agreement last month, which would bring down the cost of Russian gas for Ukraine to that paid by neighboring European Union countries until March. In return, Ukraine promised to ensure that Russia can ship gas to the EU without interruptions and to pump 2 billion cubic meters of gas into underground storage facilities over the next month. The European Union has worked to bring […]

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Ukraine, Russia Reach Preliminary Deal on Gas Supplies Through March

BRUSSELS—Ukraine and Russia on Friday reached a preliminary deal on natural-gas supplies to the conflict-torn country until the end of March that, if implemented, will avoid potential cutoffs and shortages for Ukraine and the rest of Europe this winter. The agreement, which still needs to be approved by the government in Kiev, brings down the cost of Russian gas for Ukraine to the same price that is paid by neighboring European Union countries until March. In return, Ukrainian Energy Minister Volodymyr Demchyshyn promised to ensure Russia can ship gas to the EU without interruptions and to pump 2 billion cubic meters of gas into underground storage facilities over the next month. “This is an important factor for a secure time for the winter period,” said Alexander Novak, Russia’s energy minister. The European Commission, the EU’s executive, has been working for much of the year to get the two sides […]

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Fighting Intensifies Along Eastern Ukraine Cease-Fire Line

Photo A house destroyed in heavy fighting between Ukrainian government forces and Russian-backed separatists in the village of Sartana, near Mariupol, in eastern Ukraine. Credit Sergey Vaganov/European Pressphoto Agency MOSCOW — Fighting between government forces and Russian-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine has escalated sharply in recent days, with each side blaming the other for the violence. At least nine people were killed in artillery strikes on Monday in villages and towns on both sides of a cease-fire line, and United States officials have said that one three-day period of fighting along the front last week was the most intense since a February cease-fire . Neither side has openly renounced the cease-fire, but European monitors of the accord say both have been pulling heavy weapons out of storage sites and putting them to use. The United States State Department blamed Russia and pro-Russian rebels for the uptick in violence. American […]

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Russia Says Ukraine Preparing New Offensive Against Separatists

MOSCOW — Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday he suspected Ukraine was preparing a new offensive against pro-Moscow separatists in east Ukraine following an upsurge in fighting. Clashes near the port city of Mariupol and the rebel-held town of Gorlivka have put further strain on a fragile ceasefire between Ukrainian government forces and the separatists. "We are worried by the developments in recent days which strongly recall preparation for more military actions," Lavrov told a news conference, accusing Kiev of breaking the terms of a ceasefire. "It was like that in August last year when Ukrainian soldiers received the order to attack. … It was like that in January of this year. One shouldn’t be experimenting and trying one’s luck, one should simply fulfill what was agreed in Minsk." Both sides have withdrawn artillery guns, tanks and other heavy weapons under the terms of the Minsk peace […]

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Ukraine surge in fighting violates ceasefire – EU

Ukraine’s government says its forces have come under attack near the key city of Mariupol The European Union says escalating attacks on government-controlled areas in eastern Ukraine violate a February peace deal with pro-Russia separatists. "The Minsk Agreements must be implemented in good faith, starting with full observation of the ceasefire and genuine withdrawal of heavy weapons," the EU said. Ukraine on Monday accused rebels of carrying out the heaviest shelling since the truce was agreed. Russia denies any role in the fighting. However, Ukraine and the West say there is a growing body of evidence pointing to direct involvement from Moscow. Rebel leaders have denied firing on Ukrainian positions and accuse government forces of violating the ceasefire themselves some 40 times over a 24-hour period. Some of the worst fighting was near the village of Starohnativka, 50km (31 miles) north of the strategic port of Mariupol. Ukraine says […]

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Ukraine crisis: Why a lack of parts has hamstrung Russia’s military

A Russian Mi-26 helicopter: Ukraine stopped delivering engines for the military versions Russia’s defence firms have been hit not only by Western sanctions but also by a breakdown in business ties with Ukraine. For decades under Soviet rule, Russia’s strategic industries had close links with partners in Ukraine, all centrally controlled from Moscow. But relations soured last year, with Ukraine’s pivot to the West, Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the pro-Russian insurgency in eastern Ukraine. The EU and US banned military exports to Russia, saying Moscow was supplying the insurgents with sophisticated heavy weapons and regular troops. Moscow denied the allegations. Equipment blocked Last month, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin told parliament that Ukrainian components were used in the production of 186 types of Russian military equipment. That is a serious problem, he admitted, and Moscow could resolve it only by 2018. Back in June 2014, Ukrainian President […]

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EU extends loan to assist with Ukrainian reforms

European Commissioner extends assistance to Ukraine to help with energy and financial sector reforms. Photo by canadastock/Shutterstock BRUSSELS, July 22 (UPI) — The European Commission said Wednesday it agreed to extend financial assistance to Ukraine, a key energy transit country, to help with economic reforms. The commission, acting on behalf of the European Union, said it disbursed $650 million in assistance to Ukraine to address "urgent financing needs" necessary for economic stability . The loan is aimed at steering Ukraine through energy and financial sector reforms. "Through this financial assistance, the EU is proud to support the courageous reform agenda pursued by the government," Valdis Dombrovskis, European commissioner for the euro, said in a statement. "I am confident that the implementation of those ambitious reforms will help Ukraine exploit its many assets to the full, so as to foster strong and sustainable economic growth for the benefit of all […]

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