MOSCOW, April 22. /TASS/. Ukraine has no alternative to coal supplies from troubled east Ukraine's Donbas region, the transport minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic said on Wednesday.
"Ukraine won’t be able to find other coal suppliers shortly," Semyon Kuzmenko said. "All bravura statements of Ukrainian politicians about possible purchases from South Africa or New Zealand are nothing more than populism," the Donetsk News Agency quoted him as saying.
Kuzmenko said coal supplies to Ukraine were proceeding actively, with "about 100 60-ton coal cars sent daily". "Adequate people on both sides understand that Kiev has no other alternative but to cooperate with Donbas. And all attempts to find a replacement are a road nowhere," the minister added.
Earlier, Ukraine’s Minister of Energy and Coal Industry Vladimir Demchishin said Kiev was receiving coal from those areas of Donbass that were not in the grip of the Ukrainian authorities.
He said Kiev expected to receive from Donbas in April about 0.5 million tons of anthracite coal. Demchishin said Ukraine controlled only 35 out of 95 coal mines, with 52,000 people working there. Some of the miners are to be sacked.
Demchishin assesses Ukraine’s wage debt s to miners as nine million dollars, while the head of the Independent Trade Union of Miners of Ukraine, Mikhail Volynets, puts it at 22.4 million dollars.