Some 1.67 million people in the area, including almost 1.39 million in Russia’s Republic of Crimea and around 280,000 in the city of Sevastopol have been cut off from power supplies since Sunday evening, along with some 300 public infrastructure buildings, including schools and kindergartens, Russia’s Energy Ministry said.
Electricity is being generated by local power plants, as well as back-up power sources, including solar energy plants and wind farms, the Ministry said. Some 3,000 people are working on alleviating the situation, with about 1,000 units of special equipment involved, deputy head of Russia’s Emergency Ministry Aleksandr Chupriyanov said on Sunday.
Meanwhile, to reduce electricity consumption, Sergey Aksenov, the head of the region, has announced that Monday, November 23, will be a day off. Luckily enough, the weather in the Crimean peninsula is going to remain relatively warm for the next week, with temperatures rising to 18 degrees Celsius (64 Fahrenheit).
Up to 500 socially significant facilities throughout Crimea, such as hospitals, maternity homes, schools, and kindergartens, have been left without electricity, but have been connected to reserve power stations and generators where possible, Crimean authorities reported. More power generators and fuel are likely to be supplied to Crimea early next week to help with the situation.
The German Foreign Ministry has said that the power cut in Crimea is a crime, and should be investigated in Ukraine.
“The attacks on the infrastructure in Ukraine which had as their goal the power cut of Crimea are crimes. We’re expecting the competent bodies in Ukraine to investigative them,” German Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer said, as quoted by TASS news agency.
Russia’s Crimean peninsula was forced to switch to autonomous reserve power after transmission towers in the adjacent Ukrainian Kherson region were blown up, causing a blackout. Four main transmission lines were cut off in an apparent act of sabotage late on Saturday. Photos of severed towers with a Crimean-Tatar flag hanging on one of them have been posted online.
Crimea’s chief prosecutor, Natalia Poklonskaya, said that a special meeting of law enforcement and Federal Security Service (FSB) has been scheduled, where options for taking legal action against the organizers of the blockade will be discussed. The Crimean Prosecutor’s Office has asked the FSB to initiate a criminal case over the suspected demolition of the transmission towers which supported the power lines. The case could be regarded as sabotage, which is punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment.
The act “has created a threat to lives and well-being of some two million people of various nationalities,” Poklonskaya told Interfax.
Earlier on Sunday, an expert board for the region’s head suggested that the destruction of the power line in the Kherson region “should be qualified as an act of terror.”“Kiev authorities must admit that a terrorist group, including Right Sector members, is acting on the Ukrainian territory,” the board said in a statement.
Members of the neo-Nazi Right Sector movement and Crimean Tatar “activists” in the Kherson region have been reportedly blocking repair work at four sites, thwarting promises made by the Ukrainian Energy Ministry to repair the destroyed transmission towers and power lines within days.
All preliminary work has been completed, but “people there [at accident sites] do not allow the recovery works to begin,” Deputy General Director of Ukraine’s Ukrenergo power generating monopoly, Yury Kasich, announced at a media briefing on Sunday. Kasich estimated that one line “could be repaired in one day,” whereas repairs of the other three will take three to four days.