KIEV, January 7. /TASS/. The self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) has repaid part of its debts for water supplies from Kiev-controlled territory as the debt repayment mechanism was launched by the sides, Ukraine’s ministry for the affairs of territories out of Kiev’s control and internally displaced persons said on Saturday.
"For the first time, the mechanism has been launched for the repayment of debt for water supplies to the population living in certain districts of the Lugansk region," the ministry said, adding that negotiations on that matter had been conducted within the Minsk process for more than a year.
Thus, according to the ministry, a sum of 10.5 million hryvnias (about 389,000 U.S. dollars) was transferred on January 6 to the company supplying water to the Lugansk region territories out of Kiev’s control to repay part of debts.
Now, the water supplier will be able to repay its debts to electricity suppliers and resume supplies of drinking water to Lugansk.
The problem of water supplies to Lugansk region territories non-controlled by the Kiev authorities has been repeatedly raised at the meetings of the Contact Group on the settlement of the Donbass conflict since early 2016. According to Ukraine’s deputy minister for the affairs of non-controlled territories Georgy Tuka, the LPR’s debt for water supplies was 121 million hryvnias (4.5 million U.S. dollars) as of early December.
Meanwhile, LPR’s chief negotiator at the Minsk peace talks Vladislav Deinego said earlier Kiev demanded the LPR pay a sum of 270 million hryvnia’s )ten million U.S. dollars) for water supplies although it had signed no relevant contract with the self-proclaimed republic. In his words, at a meeting of the Normandy Four leaders, namely Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine, in Berlin on October 19-20, Ukraine tried to enroll support from its Normandy Four partners to hear a recommendation to refer this issue to the Contact Group’s economic subgroup.
In early October, Ukraine suspended water supplies to the LPR from water pumping station located in Kiev-controlled areas over unpaid bills. Later, the bills for October and November were paid by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). However the ICRC warned it would stop paying water supplies bills from December 1. On December 1, Kiev stopped water supplies to the LPR from its water supply intake facility in Petrovskoye and more than halved supplies from the Western filtering station, both run by the Popasnyansky water services company.
The Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine that met in Minsk on December 7 requested the economic subgroup waste no time to organize signing of a protocol to unblock operations of the Popasnyansky water services company in the Lugansk region.