Russia said on Wednesday it would resume coal supplies to Ukraine a day after power was restored to the Crimean Peninsula it annexed last year.
“In principle, these supplies are not really needed now,” Russia’s Vladimir Putin told his ministers in Moscow. “But our Ukrainian partners have resumed supply. So be it. In response, we need to resume our coal supplies to Ukraine.”
Ukrainian engineers reconnected power lines to the Crimea on Tuesday.
Tit for tat
Last month, Ukrainian nationalists and Tatar activists destroyed pylons carrying electricity to the Black Sea peninsula, leaving the Russian-annexed territory in the dark.
Russia, in turn, suspended both coal and natural gas exports to its former satellite state.
Ukraine barred Russian commercial jets from flying through its airspace.
Kiev doesn’t recognize the annexation of the Crimea. Russia invaded the territory in early 2014 and later incorporated it as a federal subject.
Most of the peninsula’s ethnic Russians and Russian speakers voted to join Russia in a referendum.
But many native Muslim Tatars were apprehensive. Their ancestors were deported en masse to Central Asia by the Russians in the 1940s. Tatars have been returning to the Crimea since the fall of the Soviet Union and now make up 12 percent of the population.
The peninsula is still dependent on Ukraine for virtually all its electricity and water as well as 60 to 70 percent of its food.
Russian media have reported that the country is spending more than $800 million on a new power cable that would bypass Ukraine.