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Kiev, rebels to talk energy as winter looms: separatists

26 september 2014, 10:05
Ukraine's Minister of Energy and Coal Industry Yuriy Prodan.  ©Reuters
Ukraine's Minister of Energy and Coal Industry Yuriy Prodan. ©Reuters

 Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine and authorities in Kiev are planning to hold talks on energy in the region as winter looms over the strife-torn territory, a separatist leader told AFP Thursday.

"These discussions will be about vital infrastructure, including about coal and electricity," Andrei Purgin, deputy prime minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, told AFP by phone. "They need our coal," AFP reports.

He said he didn't know when the talks would start but stressed they would not be about any "political agreement".

He said that until now the issues were being discussed over Skype within the so-called "contact group" which also includes representatives of Russia and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Ukraine's Energy Minister Yuriy Prodan told AFP he was not aware of any talks concerning coal or other economic issues.

The fighting in eastern Ukraine has ravaged infrastructure and industry in the region, with large urban hubs like Lugansk living without power or drinking water for many weeks.

The power station that supplies rebel-controlled Lugansk is controlled by Kiev, while rebels have seized a station which supplies Mariupol, a city in the southern Donetsk region which is under Kiev's authority, Purgin said.

The five-month conflict in Ukraine has killed more than 3,200 people and driven 650,000 from their homes, though a cautious ceasefire this month appears to have decreased the hostilities.

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