Ukraine bans cargo shipments to Crimea amid power blackout

Transmission towers supplying electrical power to Crimea were sabotaged over the weekend.

KIEV, Ukraine,  Ukraine implemented a boycott on cargo traffic to Crimea as the region enters another day of blackouts caused by the sabotage of the Ukrainian electricity grid.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk ordered a ban on cargo shipments to Crimea, as the former Ukrainian territory, now under Russian control, endures an electricity blackout caused by the destruction of transmission towers. File photo by Ivan Vakolenko/UPI | License Photo







A “temporary banning (of) cargo traffic on the administrative border” between Ukraine and Crimea was ordered Monday by Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. Plans were underway to determine new rules for cargo traffic to Crimea, former Ukrainian territory annexed by Russia in 2014.

The move by Russia was met with international condemnation and sanctions against Russia.

Ukraine will begin a free trade agreement with the European Union at the start of 2016.

The ban on cargo traffic comes as most of Crimea remains in darkness because of a power blackout caused by explosions at four primary electricity towers in Ukraine over the weekend. Though Russia is preparing undersea cables to deliver power to the Crimean peninsula, Ukraine still provides Crimea with its electricity.

The towers were blown up by unknown attackers, though Crimean Tatars, an ethnic group prevalent in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, are suspected. Tatar activists and other demonstrators have prevented repair work from progressing, leaving Crimea in a state of emergency and banning all but essential use of generator-supplied power.

Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said one of the four damaged transmission towers could be quickly repaired, and Energy Minister Volodymyr Demchyshyn said electricity to Crimea could flow within 72 hours if repair crews could enter the sites blocked by demonstrators.

A Ukrainian lawmaker and leader of the Crimean Tatar minority, Mustafa Dzhemilev, said Sunday negotiations regarding the delivery of electricity to Crimea could begin after “all Ukrainian citizens jailed in Russia in politically motivated cases” are freed, and a commission to investigate disappearances of Crimean Tatars in Russian-controlled Crimea was established. On Monday he said repair crews would be allowed access to the damaged towers, but “it is not right to supply electricity to occupied territory where the rights of our citizens are roughly violated.”

By Ed Adamczyk