I’m surprised this didn’t happen earlier:
Three-quarters of Crimea’s population remain without power after four electricity pylons were blown up.
Gas-powered generators have been providing power to major cities. A state of emergency has been declared.
The pylons brought electricity from Ukraine. Engineers were reportedly denied access to the site by Ukrainian activists.
Crimea was annexed by Russia last year, but the Ukrainian authorities have continued to supply power to the area.
It spoke volumes of Ukrainian incompetence, real fears of an all-out invasion by Russia, or a combination of the two that Russia was able to take the Crimean peninsula so easily. The Crimea is not accessible from Russia by road, and is dependent on Ukraine for both its electricity and water supplies. Had Russia gone up against a different adversary, one would have expected to see both cut mere hours after the Russian takeover, and at the very least in the middle of the referendum which saw the population supposedly vote to become part of Russia. I can only suppose that the Ukrainian authorities refrained from doing so because they feared it would be seized by Russia as an act of war and provide them with a handy excuse to mount a full-on invasion, helping themselves to more territory.
But it did occur to me at the time that the Ukrainians would simply not bother to maintain the infrastructure serving the Crimea. They have no obligation to, I would have thought: presumably “independence” does not leave one dependent on the former power for vital services like water and electricity? At some point, they’re going to have to get this stuff provided by Russia, but I suspect they’re going to be waiting a while. There is little sign that the overpriced bridge they had planned will be realised any time soon, but they’ve put in place a temporary one which should at least alleviate some of the issues they’ve had with the ferries in the past. So although I expected the water and electricity supplies to deteriorate, it hadn’t occurred to me that some pissed-off Ukrainians might decide to blow up some power lines and leave the Crimea in darkness. This is clearly not state-sanctioned, and so there isn’t much Russia can do about it other than piss and moan. But the Ukrainian activists seem to have stumbled upon a way of upsetting the Crimeans and the Russians, and it surprises me now that this didn’t happen a year ago. I expect we’ll see more disruption to the electricity and water supplies in the future, especially if Russia starts cutting the gas off again.