Russia Update: Putin Promises ‘Serious’ Consequences for Downed Jet; Tours Canceled

November 24, 2015
Pylons in Kherson Region damaged by an explosion, knocking out power to Russian-occupied Crimea. Ukrainian protesters had organized a blockade of traffic nearby, demanding release of political prisoners, an end to the free economic zone, and a return of the Crimea to Ukraine. Photo via

Russia may halt gas and coal deliveries to Ukraine in retaliation against Kiev’s failure to repair pylons damaged in explosions over the weekend near a “citizens’ blockade” of the Crimea,

Welcome to our column, Russia Update, where we will be closely following day-to-day developments in Russia, including the Russian government’s foreign and domestic policies.

The previous issue is here.

Recent Translations:
The Non-Hybrid War
Kashin Explains His ‘Letter to Leaders’ on ‘Fontanka Office’
TV Rain Interviews Volunteer Fighter Back from Donbass
‘I Was on Active Duty’: Interview with Captured GRU Officer Aleksandrov


Russian Energy Minister Pledges ‘Energy Bridge’ to Crimea to Work Around Blockade

Aleksandr Novak, Russian minister of energy, said the first “energy bridge” in occupied Crimea will be installed before December 20, TASS reported (translation by The Interpreter):

“This was planned on the schedule for March 2015, but we have set a task to our power engineers to correct that deadline.”

The first line will carry up to 400 MW and was to be brought on line before December 25, according to an April directive from the government. Sergei Aksyonov, self-proclaimed leader of the Crimean Republic said that the first run will take place December 22. He said Crimea may be without electricity until then.

Russian winter holidays begin on New Year’s Eve December 31 and run through Orthodox Christmas (January 6) and Old New Year’s (January 13).

Some Crimean towns have been in a total blackout but Simferopol is running at 40%, with government ministries still lit up.

Vice Premier Dmitry Kozak said that by 2016, all power utilities will be working full force in Crimea, although he said there may be some brownouts in residential areas.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick 

Putin Promises ‘Serious’ Consequences For Downed Jet; Tour Agencies Cancel Trips to Turkey

At a meeting today with Abdullah II of Jordan at the Gas Exporting Countries Forum in Tehran, President Vladimir Putin vowed “serious” consequences for Turkey following the downing of a Russian SU-24, shot down by Turkish F-16s either in Turkish or Syrian air space (the specifics are currently in dispute).
Putin said (translation by The Interpreter):

We are carefully analyzing everything that happened. Today’s tragic event will have serious consequences for the future of Russian-Turkish relations.

Putin complained that instead of establishing the necessary contacts after the downing, Turkey went to its NATO partners instead.

“It’s as if we downed the Turkish plane, and they didn’t down our plane. What do they want, to put NATO at the service of ISIL?”

Russia continues to use the term “ISIL” for “ISIS.”
Earlier, Putin had called the downing of the plane “a stab in the back” and that “enablers of terrorists” had made the strike, reported.

“We will never tolerate that such crimes be committed as today. And of course we count on the fact that the international community will find the strength to come together to fight this common evil.”

Ankara objected that Russia had repeatedly violated its airspace.
Natalie Tours, a Russian tourist agency providing package trips to Turkey, has announced the halting of sales, reported. Managers said they were concerned about the safety of Russian tourists.
Russian State Duma Vice Speaker Nikolai Levichev has sent an inquiry to Rosaviatsia, the Russian air travel agency, urging the immediate halt of air traffic between Russia and Turkey.
Igor Morozov, chairman of the Committee for International Affairs of the Federation Council, the upper house of the Russian parliament, also proposed halting air traffic to and from Turkey, reported.
The Foreign Ministry summoned the Turkish military attache in Moscow to protest the incident, said

 — Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

Russia May Halt Gas and Coal Deliveries to Ukraine Over Failure to Receive Pre-Payment and Blockade
Russia may halt gas and coal deliveries to Ukraine in retaliation against Kiev’s failure to repair pylons damaged in explosions over the weekend near a “citizens’ blockade” of the Crimea, and TASS reported.

Aleksei Miller, CEO of Russia’s gas monopoly Gasprom said Ukraine had only enough gas to last several more days. Since the pre-payment from Naftogas has not been received, Russia may shut off the gas. Said Miller (translation by The Interpreter):

“The volumes of prepaid gas are ending. I think there is about two days’ left. If the pre-payment will not be received, the gas deliveries to Ukraine will be halted.”

Miller said Ukraine was taking a very small volume of gas, and repeated the threat:

“Even with such minimal draws of gas by Ukraine, there is about several days left of the pre-paid gas. Then if there will be no pre-payments, the deliveries of gas will be halted.”

Meanwhile, Ukraine was increasing its draw of gas from underground reserves, he added: 

“It is a rather significant increase. Of course, that can’t help but be worrisome, because first of all Ukraine will need the gas from the underground reserves to get through the fall and winter peak in January-February.”

Russia may also halt coal supplies in retaliation for the blockade, said Aleksandr Novak, head of the energy ministry.
“Perhaps even in this situation it is in fact necessary to make an analogous decision on halting the deliveries to our commercial organizations which deliver coal to Ukrainian power stations.”
Ukraine has its own reserves of goal, he said:

“But of course a shortage will arise. And some power stations possibly will require some sort of halt or search for other sources of coal. “

Novak said that Ukraine was failing to repair the pylons “for political reasons,” reported.

A “citizens’ blockade” has been underway since September, blocking food trucks to the Crimea and driving up food prices 10%. This past weekend an explosion took place near the protest, causing a major power outage in the Crimea.  Protesters clashed with police but ultimately allowed a repair crew to come through. But there was another explosion at the same site soon after officials arrived and since then, the repair crew has been idling and the work stalled.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick