Ukraine 'in process' of resuming power supplies to Crimea: Ukrenergo

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 07, 2015 3:06 PM

KIEV (Reuters) - Ukraine is resuming electricity supplies to Russian-annexed Crimea, a state energy official said on Monday, 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 Kiev'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 percent 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.

(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk and Natilia Zinets; Writing by Jack Stubbs; Editing by Toby Chopra)