Energy minister of Donetsk People's Republic says region is capable of being energy-independent from the rest of Ukraine. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
They are declaring energy independence in the self-proclaimed "Donetsk People's Republic" in eastern Ukraine. The energy minister of the self proclaimed republic Alexei Granovsky says they won't need help from the rest of Ukraine in the coming winter. . (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) ENERGY INDUSTRY MINISTER OF SELF-PROCLAIMED DONETSK PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC, ALEXEI GRANOVSKY, SAYING: "The Donetsk People's Republic is self-sufficient. The amount of electricity that we produce is enough for us." The Ukrainian energy ministry says 83 out of the country's 150 coal mines are now on separatist controlled territory. The Ukrainian side says it is ready to buy coal from mines on rebel-controlled lands provided that the money will be used to pay miner's salaries. It's an offer they want to refuse. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) ENERGY INDUSTRY MINISTER OF SELF-PROCLAIMED DONETSK PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC, ALEXEI GRANOVSKY, SAYING: "This decision is a political one rather than an economic one. My personal opinion is that it is a crime to sell coal to Ukraine. Because the Ukrainian military are shelling us. They destroyed our infrastructure,and our citizens, and they kill children. And I believe that selling coal to Ukraine, even on favorable conditions, is a crime." Ukraine's east which is now partly under rebel control, used to be the main supplier of coal for the country's industries. Kiev faced an energy crisis after Russia cut off gas supplies in June. Supplies from the east were interrupted by a military conflict. Last week, talks between Russia and Ukraine brokered by the European Commission led to a temporary resumption of gas supplies until the end of March.