Ukraine Live Day 683: Explosion in Zakarpattia at Main Gas Line from Russia to Europe Via Ukraine

January 1, 2016
Plume of fire from gas explosion in Zarkapattia. Screen grab from video by Vitalik Biletski

An explosion occurred in Zakarpattia (Trans-Carpathia) at the main gas line that supplies gas from Russia via Ukraine to Europe.

Yesterday’s live coverage of the Ukraine conflict can be found here.

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For links to individual updates click on the timestamps.

For the latest summary of evidence surrounding the shooting down of flight MH17 see our separate article: How We Know Russia Shot Down MH17.

1st Ukrainian Soldier to Die in 2016

The first Ukrainian soldier has been killed in the New Year, 24 Today reported.
Netishinska Samoborona or Netishina Self-Defense, named for the town in Khmelnytskyi Regoin reported on their Facebook page that Nazar Galyuk from the Aidar 24th Battalion was killed by a sniper bullet through the heart.
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick
Power Line to Crimea Repaired, But Electricity Not Yet Restored; Ukrainian Police Report Explosion as Cause

A repair crew from Ukrenergo, Ukraine’s energy company said repair work was done on the Kakhov-Titan line to Crimea, but power was still not restored, Espreso. TV and other Ukrainian media reported.

On December 30, occupation authorities of Crimea reported that power supplied by Ukraine was out; yesterday it was determined that a power transmission line had collapsed.
The contract for delivery of electricity from mainland Ukraine to occupied Crimea expired on December 31. Crimean leader Refat Chubaroa and Lenur Islyamov, coordinator of the citizens’ blockade of the Crimea urged that the new contract indicate that the Crimean peninsula was occupied by Russia.

The activists denied involvement in the latest power outage, which they said could be caused by heavy winds.

But Ukraine’s 112 TV reported that the National Police in Kherson Region said an explosion caused the damage (translation by The Interpreter):

A review of the damaged cement electricity pylons is underway in the area of the village of Bogdanovka in Kakhovo District. According to the preliminary conclusions of experts from the explosives service, the pylon was damaged as a result of an explosion.

Earlier in November, an explosion on the line had caused power outages throughout in Crimea until repairs were completed December 8.

President Vladimir Putin order a public opinion poll to be made regarding power supply from Ukraine, and VTsIoM (All-Russian Center for the Study of Public Opinion) published the results, where 93% of residents of Crimea opposed signing a contract for power supply from Kiev in which Crimea would be designated as “occupied”; 94% said they were prepared to put up with hardships in the next three months as a result, reported.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

1 Russian-Backed Militant Killed in Fighting in Donbass
Today, January 1, the ATO [Anti-Terrorist Operation] reported that the Russian-backed militants violated the cease-fire 24 times with firearms and heavy machine guns, reported, citing the ATO’s Facebook page.
There was firing on Peski, Opytnoye, near the Donetsk Airport, and Troitskoye on the border between the Donetsk and Lugansk regions. There was also firing on positions at the Gorlovka-Svetlodarsk bulge and Novgorodskoye and Luganskoye. The ATO said Ukrainian forces did not return fire.

But Dan-info, the news service of the self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic” (DNR) claimed, however, that Ukrainian forces had violated the “quiet regimen” 11 times, firing from 82–mm mortars, tanks and BMPs in Staromikhalovka, Kominternovo and the area of the Donetsk Airport. One DNR fighter was killed due to numerous shrapnel wounds, said Dan-info. Five homes were said to be damaged in Kominternovo.

There was also report of an Aidar volunteer killed not yet reported by the Ukrainian military.

In Kiev, police opened fire on a man who shot at a police patrol, reported.. Officers had responded to a complaint of a disturbance at the Troyeshchina housing complex. While they were speaking with witnesses, an armed man shot at them. Law-enforcers fired warning shots then shot the gunman in the leg and stomach. His name was not provided.
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick
Explosion Occurs in Zakarpattia at Main Gas Line from Russia to Europe Via Ukraine
An explosion occurred in Zakarpattia (Trans-Carpathia) at the main gas line that supplies gas from Russia via Ukraine to Europe, and other Ukrainian media reported, citing the Zakarpattia Region governor’s office.
Regional authorities said there were no injuries, and gas supply to Europe would not be affected, Ukraine Today reported.
A seal broke underground on the Soyuz main line near the Khust ring road at 9:55 local time, causing gas released to catch fire accidentally from sparks. The governor’s office said (translation by The Interpreter):

“As a result of the explosion, a 50-meter pillar of fire was formed, residents of villages in several districts have seen it.

Ukraine Today published two amateur videos from the scene. 

No damage to the environment was expected.

2016-01-01 18:23:52

A repair crew has arrived and closed off the supply to the line. By 14:00 local time, most of the gas in the line had burned out, the plume was now 10 meters high and atmospheric pressure was about 0.5.

 Last year an explosion on the gas line to Europe occurred at another location, and officials suspected sabotage, but this has not been claimed in the current incident.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev announced toay that Russia would give Ukraine a discount in the new gas contract for the first quarter of 2016, bringing the price to $212.3 per 1,000 cubic meters, down from $230. The price for the last quarter of 2015 was $227.40 Gazprom, Russia’s gas monopoly, cut off the gas supply November 25 due to Ukraine’s non-payment, noting that the government would have to decide whether a discount should be offered.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick