Power cuts in Crimea

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.


4 thoughts on “Power cuts in Crimea

  1. Once it became clear, more or less, that Russia would be unable to advance far into Ukraine without a huge loss of life, Kiev was in the position to cut off Crimea from all the infrastructure. But Russia is paying 3.4 rubles per kWh of Ukrainian electricity, an attractive price considering that Ukraine paid only 2.6 rubles per kWh of Russian imports in September (it is no longer importing Russian power). Pretty good business for Ukraine.

    By the way, Ukraine does not have to buy gas from Gazprom anymore, since it can fill its demand from Slovakia, Poland and Hungary. On the other hand, Gazprom can cut down on supplies to those three countries to stop them reexporting gas to Ukraine, as Gazprom seems to have done in 1Q15 (at a tangible cost to its top line: gas prices were still high then). Still, they can source additional volumes from Germany or Austria; Poland’s new LNG terminal can also help. It will be a question of Ukraine being able to pay for more expensive (transportation costs) gas from the West.

  2. Incidentally, I probably drove past the power station providing the electricity in question when I took my taxi trip from Kiev to Simferopol. We drove past a nuclear plant just north of Crimea on the Dnieper river around 1am, I still remember it.

  3. It must have been the Yuzhnoukrainsk nuclear plant north-west of Nikolaev (Mykolaiv). The other NPP in the south is Zaporozhye (Zaporizhia) but why drive to Crimea along the Dnieper?

  4. It must have been the Yuzhnoukrainsk nuclear plant north-west of Nikolaev (Mykolaiv).

    Yes, I think it was…it was certainly closer to Crimea than Kiev. I used to remember the rough route we took, but have forgotten it. Back at the time I wrote a whole series of blog posts on that trip, but managed to lose it permanently when I switched computers years ago…or so I thought. Last year I came across the web archive and by some miracle managed to retrieve it, along with the one I wrote about my trip to Nizhnekamsk back in 2004. To say I was pleased is an understatement.

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