Donbas trade blockade: pros and cons

Author : Serhiy Kot

Source : 112 Ukraine

The situation with the blockade shows that Ukraine does not have strong political will and urgent program to ensure its energy independence
23:13, 16 February 2017

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Since the beginning of the Russian aggression against Ukraine and erupting of Donbas conflict, Ukrainian government has repeatedly promised to turn the contact line (conditional border between territories, controlled by Kyiv and those controlled by the Donbas militants- Ed.) into inaccessible and closed cordon. An impenetrable border that would stop the “plague” of the Russian world. It would prevent Ukraine from further spread of separatism, and Russia would not have enough resources to support the occupied territories. But time has passed, and actually, we have faced a very strange situation.

Related: UkrEnergo: anthracite coal left only for 40 days

Amid continuing fierce battles with Russian-backed insurgents, which are paralleled with extremely lively movement of people and industrial consignments through the line of demarcation. And besides smuggling is sanctioned by the movement of commodity production in both directions. This ambiguous situation has long attracted public opinion. And recently one of the most prominent topics became public activists’ blockade of railroad routes between the territory of Ukraine and regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, captured by Russian terrorists. Opinions about this event were divided.

On the one hand, the initiators of the blockade motivate their actions with requirements to release all prisoners and hostages, kept by the militants. They also find it immoral, in terms of war, conduct any transactions with territories from whom comes aggression and death. They believe that a total blockade would accelerate the collapse of the occupation regimes of the so called DPR and LPR, Donbas liberation from the occupants.

Related: Ukraine's energy sector: emergency state, rolling blackouts, and manipulations

On the other hand, Ukrainian government and some deputies initially claimed that the blockade primarily affects ordinary people who find themselves in areas controlled by militants, so that will provoke anti-Ukrainian sentiment. No one is conducting trade relations with those territories, it is rather "sharing." Those entities selling coal have re-registered in Ukraine, so they pay taxes to the Ukrainian budget. Now the government also said that without anthracite coal, which is delivered to Ukraine from the occupied territories of Donbas, Ukrainian would face an energy collapse and rolling blackouts in a state of emergency in the energy sector.

Related: "UkrEnergo" and Ministry of Energy and Coal Industry propose to declare emergency due to coal deficit

This political and economic debate is obviously still far from its end. But the situation with the blockade has already got an obvious result. Like a litmus paper, showed the real complexity and ambiguity of the situation. It turns out that Ukraine cannot completely block those territories; it is technically impossible - they still control part of Ukrainian-Russian border and the possibility of direct contacts with Russia, which supports them. The vital communication such as the supply of water, gas, and electricity are used by the government-controlled territory and by the uncontrolled areas. It means that Ukraine cannot just simply cut them. Otherwise, it will leave our soldiers and those territories, controlled by Ukraine, without communications. After two years of war, nothing was done to break or at least significantly reduce this dependence on the actions of militants. What if they receive a command from Moscow to destroy all the communication?

Related: “LPR” gets 47% as “taxes” from the amount of coal exported to Ukraine

The situation with the threat of a shortage of electricity due to lack of anthracite coal produced in uncontrolled territories is also dangerous. The issue of energy independence have been repeatedly discussed in public. This was the reason to establish draconian tariffs, calculated by "Rotterdam +" formula that come with the price of coal in 1730 UAH per ton. All power generation companies were required to purchase a sufficient amount of coal this winter. Last fall, Ukraine's energy minister publicly stated that Ukraine has enough coal to survive in the winter.

Related: Ukraine to depend on anthracite coal another two years

And now it turns out that, according to experts, we pay unreasonably high tariffs for our energy independence, and Ukrainian oligarchs continue to import coal from the occupied territories, which they are buying for 700 UAH per ton. They earn thousand hryvnias on each ton of coal, and even dare to scare us with rolling blackouts because of our dependence on bandit coal from DPR and LPR! What if the militants decide to fulfill the new requirement of the LPR/DPR leaders to reregister all those companies and pay taxes to LPR/DPR?

Related: Cabinet of Ministers brings in emergency measures in state energy system

The situation with the blockade has found the main thing - we need political will and urgent program to ensure the existence of Ukrainian independent Donbas and Ukraine as such. Because "secret negotiations" of the oligarchs are a source of constant threat. And excessive energy dependence on the will of Donbas militants, who, like an octopus, have grabbed almost every Ukrainian family for its suffocating embrace, obviously, is a matter of national security. Because this dependence is becoming critical.

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Cees Boogaart

Age: 64

Gender: М

Member since: 06.12.2016

Messages: 129

From whence: , Netherlands

17 February 2017, 10:28
|Nationalize power plants, and block LNR/DNR completly! 100 millions now given to them for water and other things by Ukraine !!! For that money Ukraine can get more then enough coal. If blockade would have been from 2014, DNR/LNR would have collapsed already.
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