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Yesterday Ukraine completely blocked cargo transportation through the line of demarcation in Donbas. Only humanitarian supplies will be allowed. This was one of the requirements of the blockade, but authorities warned that such a decision would be detrimental to the whole country. World media also unanimously wrote about possible consequences for the Ukrainian economy.
Many Western media reposted an article of the Associated Press under the headline: Ukraine has announced a transport blockade of rebel-held areas that is likely to cause serious economic disruption and could threaten a precarious cease-fire in the east of the country.
“The move represents a dramatic U-turn by Poroshenko, who had previously tried to end a transport blockade on the rebel east imposed by nationalist groups. It shows the government's vulnerability to radical forces, which have increasingly shaped the nation's policy agenda.
Many economic links have been preserved between separatist-controlled areas that are dominated by heavy industry, particularly coal mining and metallurgy, and government-held Ukraine despite a three-year conflict.”
"From our point of view, such a decision doesn't contribute to de-escalation: quite the contrary, it tends to encourage the separatist tendencies in Donbass," Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer said in Berlin, referring to the area of eastern Ukraine under rebel control.
Martin Sajdik, a special envoy of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in the so-called contact group for talks on the situation in eastern Ukraine, said Wednesday following its meeting in Minsk that the latest developments "heightened tensions and have a clearly adverse effect for the process of bringing positions closer."
Reuters published a short news article under the title “Ukraine halts all cargo traffic with rebel-held territory”, in which explained that “in a standoff that is hurting the economies of both sides, separatists have seized control of strategic Ukraine-registered industries in their territory in response to the rail blockade, which has cut off coal and steel shipments since late January.
The asset seizures by separatists have mostly affected businesses in the financial and industrial group owned by Ukraine's richest man, Rinat Akhmetov.
On Wednesday, Akhmetov's Metinvest and DTEK Energy said their main businesses in rebel-held territory had been taken under separatist control.
The two companies, which are the main employers on both sides of the eastern front line, said they had halted production at the affected operations.
"The main result will be a dramatic decline in income and a rise in unemployment," said Maksim Timchenko, DTEK's chief executive.
The trade squeeze has highlighted the complicated economic relationship between the two sides and represents a new phase in a standoff that has killed more than 10,000 people.
Germany, which has taken a leading role in trying to end the conflict, said it was seriously concerned about "increasing partitionist tendencies" in eastern Ukraine.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer told a government news conference: "The danger of a military escalation is far from over."
The Financial Times newspaper appeared with the headline " Ukraine’s Poroshenko threatens blockade on Russian-backed militants."
The edition wrote that “Poroshenko made clear that only humanitarian aid will be allowed to flow across front lines of the war-torn region, where millions of residents amid a nearly three-year simmering war have scrapped to survive. Some have earned a living through small-time trading across frontlines while others have continued to work at factories within the separatist region that operated under Ukrainian law and paid state taxes until being halted and seized days ago.
This week, Ukrainian security officials forcefully cleared one of three railway blockades, freeing it up for coal shipments. But sporadic clashes with protesters taking part in the blockades have heightened tensions. Security chiefs would, Poroshenko said, meet later to discuss possible sanctions to be imposed on Russian banks for allegedly accepting as clients individuals presenting internationally-unrecognised passports issued by the separatist Donetsk and Lugansk self-declared republics.”
Radio Liberty writes that “Ukraine announces suspension of cargo traffic with separatist-held areas”.
“The move comes after the government took steps this week to end a rail and road blockade established by Ukrainians opposed to any trade with the separatists, who control a portion of eastern Ukraine that includes coal mines and other industrial enterprises that have long been a crucial part of the country's economy. The activists maintaining the blockade called such commerce "trade in blood."
However, Russia's Foreign Ministry immediately urged an end to the blockade, saying that the situation risked turning into a "humanitarian catastrophe."
The ministry said in a statement on its website that Kyiv was responsible for a recent flare-up of tensions in eastern Ukraine.
Meanwhile, the separatists responded to the activists' blockade by seeking, as of March 1, to seize control of Ukrainian enterprises in the territory they hold, further aggravating the crisis.”
In its news article BBC used the words of blockade participants about "trading on the blood."
“War veterans, activists and some lawmakers had for weeks demanded that all transport links with the rebels be cut, describing any business activity with the east as "trade in blood".
The veterans had also repeatedly clashed with police sent to dismantle makeshift blockade points.
The unofficial blockade has cut off vital links between industrial plants on either side of the conflict's frontline.
As a result, operations at several steel and coal plants on the separatist side have been suspended.
The blockade also puts at risk Ukraine's energy supply.
Ukraine is dependent on anthracite from the rebel-held areas, while Donetsk and Luhansk need coke produced in Ukraine's government-controlled regions.
Earlier this week, rebel leaders announced that they started shipping coal to Russia.”