April 25, 2017 / 7:01 AM / 3 months ago

Ukraine cuts power supply to separatist region, blaming unpaid debts

2 Min Read

KIEV, April 25 (Reuters) - Ukraine's national power company said on Tuesday it had cut electricity to parts of an eastern region controlled by pro-Russian separatists because they had run up large debts.

There was no immediate reaction from political leaders in Luhansk, who are caught up in a tense stand-off with Ukraine's government - part of a wider confrontation between Moscow and Kiev's Western backers.

"This night, the power supply to the temporary occupied territory of Luhansk region was completely halted," Vsevolod Kovalchuk, head of the power distributor Ukrenergo, said on Facebook.

Luhansk media quoted an energy official saying the region, which is close to the Russian border, had been prepared for the suspension and would connect to other sources.

Ukraine cut gas supplies to Luhansk in 2015, also blaming unpaid debts, and imposed a trade blockade on the occupied regions in March.

Kiev has accused the area of accumulating 2.6 billion hryvnias ($97.67 million) in unpaid electricity charges.

Three years after Moscow annexed the Crimean region, tensions between Ukraine and separatists in the Russian-held eastern part of the country remain high and a 2015 ceasefire is violated regularly.

An American paramedic working for European security watchdog OSCE's monitoring mission in eastern Ukraine was killed and two others injured on Sunday when their vehicle struck a mine near small village of Pryshyb, closed to Luhansk. ($1 = 26.6200 hryvnias) (Reporting by Pavel Polityuk; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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