KIEV, March 21. /TASS/. Ukraine is mulling purchases of coal in the U.S., Australia or South Africa, Prime Minister Vladimir Groysman told ICTV channel on Tuesday.
"We'll be purchasing it for foreign currency now," he said. "The source countries are the US or Australia or South Africa. That's very, very serious."
Groysman pointed out the important efforts taken by the cabinet of his predecessor, Arseny Yatsenyuk, and said his cabinet carried on their cause.
"We're living without a droplet of Russian (natural) gas for 500 days already," he said. "We've chosen the path of retrieving Ukrainian natural gas from our own deposits and I think we'll boost production of our gas by more than half a billion cubic meters this year."
"In practical terms, this means we'll reduce purchases of gas for hard currency by 0.5 billion cubic meters and this stands for our independence in the energy sector," Groysman said.
He mentioned a yet another time the ongoing blockade of trade with the self-proclaimed unrecognized Donetsk and Lugansk republics in eastern Ukraine, saying many of the people taking part in it were sincerely wishing good to their homeland "but their actions have an adverse impact in reality."
Militants of the so-called Ukrainian voluntary battalions drawing on support from a number of members of the Verkhovna Rada blocked on January 25 the traffic of freight trains carrying coal from the mines located in areas uncontrolled by the pro-Kiev forces, explaining for the actions by the importance of struggle with the alleged flows of contraband.
The blockade compelled several major industrial facilities in Donbass to suspend operations.
On this background, the prime ministers of the Donetsk and Lugansk republics issued a joint statement on February 27 saying the republics would place all the Ukrainian enterprises on their territories under external management as of March 1 in order to support their operations and keep up jobs there. The statement also said the self-proclaimed republics were suspending shipments of coal to Ukraine.
The Kiev government on its part suspended all the transportation to and from the areas of Donbass beyond its control as of March 15. The Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, Alexander Turchinov, said the ban would stay in effect until the implementation of provisions of the Minsk accords regarding ceasefire and the pullback of weapons and until the return of enterprise, which the republics had put under external management, to the Ukrainian jurisdiction.
Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said, however, the ban would not affect private transport.