Ukraine cut power and cancelled trains to Crimea as Visa and Mastercard announced the company will not process business cards due to sanctions from the West. Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in March, but even though the international community does not recognize the move, the peninsula still suffers from sanctions placed on Russia.
The energy ministry cut off power to Crimea in order to preserve power supplies. Ukraine recently enjoyed mild weather, but temperatures are expected to drop below freezing.
“At 13:50 the transmission power line … Kakhovskaya- Dzhankoi, which was at this point the only line feeding Crimea, has been switched off by the order of NAK Ukrenergo,” said national regulator Ukrenergo.
Ukrainian media said power resumed in Crimea at 5:07PM, but did not relay any information if it will stay on. The war in east Ukraine, which supplied the country with 40% of its power, halted coal transportations to power plants. Ukraine only has 1.5 million tons of coal in reserves instead of the normal 4-5 million tons. Russia halted coal supplies to Ukraine, but President Petro Poroshenko announced Ukraine received a shipment when they turned on power to the peninsula. Officials claimed if the country is hit with another shortage they will cut power again to Crimea and possibly the rebel held east.
Ukraine’s State Inspection for Road Safety declared buses will stop services to Crimea over safety concerns, but did not specify when ticket resales will resume. At the same time, state company Ukrzaliznytsia stopped all cargo and passenger trains and to Crimea due to security concerns, but did not provide details about the concerns or how long the trains will stop.
“In order to ensure the safety of passengers … (the railway) will cut the route of trains to Crimea off at Novooleksiyvka and Kherson,” said Ukrazliznytsia, naming the two towns on the border.
The United States sanctions on Russia in early December forced Visa and Mastercard to stop accepting bankcards in Crimea a day after Christmas. The sanctions state that American companies are “prohibited from investing in Crimean and operating there, including providing services.”
“Due to the latest U.S. sanctions imposed against Crimea by Executive Order 13685 of December 19, 2014, Visa is now prohibited from offering Visa-branded products and services to Crimea,” said Visa. “This means that we can no longer support card issuing and merchant/ATM acquiring services in Crimea.”
Both companies stopped services to Russia in early 2014 after the US placed sanctions on Bank Rossiya along with Sobinbank, InvestCapitalBank, and SMP Bank. Customers of these banks are not allowed to use their cards to “pay for goods or services,” but they can withdraw money from ATMs. Visa and MasterCard did not say if Crimeans can withdraw money from ATMs with their bankcards.