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Self-proclaimed republics hope to sell coal to Ukraine

World Coal,

The self-proclaimed people’s republics of Luhansk and Donetsk say they want to sell coal to Ukraine, yet Ukrainian officials claim the coal is theirs by right.

The Deputy Prime Minister of the Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR), Vasily Nitkin, said he was ready to sell coal to Ukraine.

“We have very big reserves of coal, our storage facilities are full. We are ready to sell it. We have enough coal not only for our republic for all of Ukraine,” Nitikin said.

Yet the Ukrainian authorities are unlikely to purchase coal they perceive as belonging to them.

Ukrainian Minister of Energy and Coal, Vladimir Demchisin, said Ukraine may take coal from the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), and wanted to take about 2 million t of coal from the storehouses of the Ugol Ukrainy state-owned coal company.

“This coal belongs to Ukraine and the coal is at Ukrainian mines. I hope we will be able to solve the problem soon, as we have an opportunity to take it out via Debaltsevo,” Demchishin said.

Yet DPR officials have said Ukraine will not be allowed to take the coal from the storehouses free of charge.

“Ukraine’s state budget has frozen on Donetsk mines’ accounts 218 million hryvnias (US$14.35 million). Moreover, the budget owes 816 million hryvnias (US$53.73 million) in wages to Donbass miners, who haven’t been paid their salaries since July,” the DPR ministry of fuel and energy said.

As tensions escalate, Reuters reported that Demchisin has pleaded with industrial and domestic consumers throughout Ukraine to use less electricity in order to avoid blackouts.

The minister recently called for a reduction in evening electricity consumption by 15%.

"Please, take it seriously. We expect reductions in electricity consumption even today. If we see consumption fall... I promise to appeal (to the regulatory body) to stop the outages," the minister told the government press service.

The Ukrainian national electricity company, Ukrenergo, said coal reserves have fallen 65% since last year and now stand at just 1.3 million t.

Five power plants in Ukraine now only have enough coal to last up to another four days.

The separatist conflict in Ukraine’s industrial eastern regions has forced the country onto a potential precipice. Some Ukrainians now believe the country will be forced to rely on Russia for supplies of gas.

Earlier this year, Russian military forces entered Ukrainian sovereign territory and annexed the Crimean region.

There have since been reports of Russian military forces crossing the Ukrainian border and aiding separatist forces. 

Edited from various sources by Sam Dodson

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