Ukraine Live Day 312: Minsk Peace Talks Cancelled, Ukraine Cuts Power and Trains to Crimea

December 26, 2014
A freight train crosses champagne vineyards outside Sevastopol, Crimea, on Oct. 30, 2014. | AFP/Kyiv Post

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Electricity and Rail Service to Crimea Cut

Ukraine has once again cut electricity to Crimea:

Kyiv Post  reports that the Russian-appointed Crimean Minister of Fuel and Energy, Sergei Yegorov, told Interfax that power was cut without warning or explanation, and the peninsula has switched to backup power sources.

Communications are also down.

As 24 Today notes, this cut comes two days after another cut of electricity:

On Dec. 24 electric power consumption in Crimea was limited by 200 megawatts in the morning and evening peak hours and rolling blackouts started in residential areas.

Problems with the electricity supply from Ukraine to Crimea started in late August and Ukraine nearly halved the power supply in October. Electric power supply to Crimea was fully discontinued for several hours in the morning of Dec. 24. Power supply was restored in a later period.

The blackout caused breakdowns at the Simferopol and Saki power plants. All thermal power plants are now stopped for repairs.

The trolleys in Crimea are down because there’s no electricity, but today Ukraine also banned rail service carrying all cargo to the peninsula. Kyiv Post reports that the State Rail Transport Administration, Ukrzaliznytsia, has announced that passenger trains departing from Novooleksiyivka and Kherson have also been cancelled to ensure “safety,” and other rail service to Moscow will be cut:

Moreover, Ukrzaliznytsia is to cancel three international trains: No. 40/98-97/39 linking Simferopol, Kerch and Moscow (from Dec. 28), No. 68/618/668-667/6617/67 linking Sevastopol, Simferopol, Yevpatoria and Moscow (from Dec. 29 from Sevastopol, Simferopol, Yevpatoria and from Dec. 27 from Moscow); and No. 100/99 linking Minsk and Simferopol, specifically carriages No. 56/55 between Sumy and Simferopol (from Dec. 27 from Minsk and Sumy and from Dec. 28 from Simferopol).

As Myroslava Petsa notes, this change comes after an expansion fo the NSDC’s power:

Ukraine Reports Russian Military Equipment Is In ‘Aid Convoys’

The spokesman for Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council reports that the Russian government continues to supply arms across the border, and unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) continue to conduct surveillance of Ukraine’s military positions, Interfax reports.¬†

While Ukraine’s military has no military drones, the Russian-backed separatists are able to use military drones, likely supplied by Russia, to scout Ukrainian military positions and better target artillery.

The NSDC also released a graphic today showing what they say are the contents of Russia’s “humanitarian aid” convoys — military hardware:

Minsk Peace Talks Cancelled

The peace talks in Minsk have fallen apart today, according to Belarusian officials. BBC reports that no official reason has been given for their cancellation, and it’s not clear whether this is a permanent development:

Belarusian foreign ministry spokesman Dmitry Mironchik told Agence France-Presse: “There will be no contact group meeting today,” but he added that “Belarus is always ready to offer [Minsk] as a negotiations venue.”

Wednesday’s talks focused on troop withdrawals and aid, although no details of any progress emerged

So far we have not seen any comment from either the Ukrainian nor Russian foreign ministries.

In other news, however, Russia appears to have delivered another “humanitarian aid” convoy today, and Ukraine has published an assessment of these convoys which says they carry military weapons and supplies, and Ukraine has cut power once again to Crimea, as well as train service — more on these stories soon.

James Miller