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Russia Shuts off Gas, Electricity in Occupied East Ukraine

It appears the Kremlin might be losing interest in east Ukraine—or as Russian President Vladimir Putin called it, Novorossiya (new Russia). Russia reportedly cut off electricity to east Ukraine a few days ago.

“We held fairly productive negotiations with the Russians,” explained Ukrainian Energy Minister Volodymyr Demchyshyn. “We have been able to switch off four lines that ran from Russia to territories outside our control.”

The rebels and Russian soldiers allegedly owe $15 million. Demchysyn said the bill “was not being paid.”

Over 6,000 people have been killed during the 16-month war. It erupted after the pro-Europe parliament ousted pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych, and Putin annexed the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea. Russian soldiers also invaded east Ukraine, which houses mostly Russian speakers. Putin has previously addressed the area as Novorossiya, but has not spoken the name in a few months.

Russia recently cut off gas supplies to Ukraine due to lack of payment. However, President Petro Poroshenko believes Russia will move gas through his country through 2019, since “there is no other economic alternative. He told the press:

I can assure you that any projects bypassing Ukraine make gas in Europe more expensive, which means that prices are not competitive… We will not support this. Ukraine is interested in long-term, market-based prices, ensuring the energy security of the European Union. I do not rule out that if this does not occur and we agree with the European Union, then we will buy gas for Europe on the Ukrainian-Russian border and this will allow deprive anyone of monopoly.

But the Russian nostalgia is slowly dying off as well. For the past year, the pro-Ukrainians have won elections in swing regions like Kharkiv and Odessa. Taras Kuzio, author at Financial Times, also pointed out that “separatism is non-existent in Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhzhya, Kherson and Mykolayiv.” More importantly, Putin vaguely invaded Ukraine. He did not annex it like he did Crimea, which dampened the spirits “among working class Russian speakers and pensioners who, like their Crimean counterparts, believed that their standards of living and their pensions would be higher in an expanded Russia.”

In early June, Putin appeared to endorse Ukrainian sovereignty when he told Italian publication Corriere Della Sera that Donetsk and Luhansk regions should remain with Ukraine, but only under certain conditions.

“Incidentally, the leaders of the self-proclaimed republics have publicly stated that under certain conditions – meaning the implementation of the Minsk Agreements – they are ready to consider themselves part of the Ukrainian state,” he claimed. “This is a fundamental issue. I think this position should be viewed as a sound precondition for the start of substantial negotiations.”

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