Russia is destroying Ukraine’s energy system by selling it electricity at low prices, pushing local mines and power plants out of business. That’s according to Mikhail Volynets, an MP in Kiev and chair of a mineworkers’ union.
Speaking on Rada TV, Volynets explained that Ukraine is buying cheap energy from Russia and Belarus, despite the country having its own capacity for producing electricity. The politician also claims that Moscow sells power to Kiev for half the price it sells it to its own citizens in Moscow’s suburbs.
“This is a hybrid energy war in order to finally stop and destroy Ukrainian mines… and to stop thermal power plants,” Volynets said, explaining that uranium ore mines are on the verge of shutting down.
In February, Ukraine was forced to begin temporarily importing electricity from Russia, with the country suffering from a shortage due to heightened consumption amid a cold winter. That same month, Kiev also bought emergency energy from its northern neighbor Belarus.
According to Volynets, energy bought from Minsk is actually Russian. Last year, a newly-built nuclear power plant in Belarus was connected to the country’s national grid. The facility was put together by Rosatom, a Russian state-owned energy corporation, and was financed by Moscow.
In March, Ukrainian Energy Minister Yuriy Vitrenko told his counterpart in Lithuania that its energy system would separate from Russia and Belarus in 2022. Vilnius is particularly concerned about the new Belarusian plant, located right on its border. Politicians in the small Baltic state have accused Minsk of building a dangerous facility, risking potential catastrophe. The country has proposed “a complete blockade” of the plant.
“The Lithuanian president has called on the Ukrainian parliament and our executive authorities to stop buying electricity from Belarus,” Volynets explained.
In December 2019, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky approved amendments that banned the import of energy from Russia on a contractual basis, limiting it “to avoid an emergency situation in the united energy system.”
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