Russia agrees to provide coal and electricity for the Ukraine
Putin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told TASS news that Russia has a new deal with the Ukraine to provide coal and electricity for the Ukraine. The conflict in the east has cut off coal supplies for plants in the rest of the Ukraine.
Peskov claimed that Putin had agreed to the deal as a goodwill gesture and said: "Putin made a decision to start these supplies due to the critical situation with energy supplies and despite a lack of prepayment." The agreement will see Russia supply the Ukraine with half a million tonnes of coal each month according to Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak. If further agreement is reached it will provide another half million. At present, Ukraine has only 1.5 million tonnes of coal in reserve whereas normally winter stocks reach 4 to 5 million tonnes.
While normally Ukraine is self-sufficient in providing its electricity, fighting in the coal producing regions of the east has cut off coal supplies to the thermal generating stations. These provide almost 40 percent of Ukraine's electrical power. Kozak also said that he hoped the agreement would resolve problems involving Ukrainian supply of energy to the Crimea. Ukraine blocked all air and bus travel to the Crimea on Friday. The Crimean customs service said that automobile traffic was also stopped at two of three crossings but had resumed by the afternoon. A Ukrainian security official said the measures were temporary. A spokesperson for Ukrainian security Col. Andriy Lysenko claimed that the suspension resulted because "there is a high likelihood of sabotage groups entering under the guise of local people." There were three recent fatal explosions in the south including one in Odessa and another in Kherson just 60 miles north of Crimea. The disruption of transport is certain to anger residents on both sides of the border as this is the busy holiday season.
On a more positive note, eastern rebels freed another four prisoners including three soldiers after the initial swap of 146 for 222 people held by the Ukraine government. The latest release was in Luhansk