Crimea Loses Electricity After Power Lines Are Blown Up

Nov 23, 2015
Originally published on November 23, 2015 9:49 am
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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Amid all the dramatic news in the world, it's easy to lose track of this reality. Russia still possesses Crimea. Russia has annexed that peninsula on the Black Sea, ignoring the many nations that say it still belongs to Ukraine. Crimea retains connections to Ukraine. In particular, it is dependent on Ukraine for most of its electricity. Power lines run past Russian checkpoints into Russian-controlled territory. It's a vulnerability that someone took advantage of over the weekend by bombing electric transmission towers in Ukraine that serve Crimea. Most of the peninsula lost power. From Moscow, NPR's Corey Flintoff has the story.

COREY FLINTOFF, BYLINE: Russian officials in Crimea say that power has been restored to most big cities on the peninsula. But the incident highlights the volatile atmosphere between Russia and Ukraine. Sergei Aksyonov, the Russian-backed prime minister of the disputed region, reacted defiantly to the bombings.

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PRIME MINISTER SERGEI AKSYONOV: (Through interpreter) No one will put Crimean citizens on their knees. We won't let anyone speak to us in the language of blackmail and force.

FLINTOFF: Ukrainian police say someone bombed two electrical transmission pylons near the mainland city of Kherson on Friday night. That blacked out power and also cut water supplies for nearly 2 million people on the peninsula for much of the weekend. Most of Crimea still gets its electric power from the Ukrainian mainland. Ukrainian activists have called for an economic blockade of Crimea, including cutting off electricity. The United States and the European Union imposed economic sanctions on Russia after the seizure of Crimea, and most other countries still consider the area to be a legal part of Ukraine. On Saturday, anti-Russian activists tried to prevent repair crews from fixing the damage. But they were pushed back by riot police. Two more pylons were bombed on Saturday night. Russian officials say this morning that power has been restored to much of the region using big, mobile generators. Russia's been planning several projects to increase electrical generation in Crimea as a way of making it less vulnerable to disruptions of power from Ukraine. Corey Flintoff, NPR News, Moscow. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.