A state of emergency has been declared in Russia’s Crimean peninsula following the bombing of all power transmission line towers in the neighbouring Ukrainian Kherson region.
Hospitals and other vital infrastructure are using reserve power stations and generators to remain operational as the four main transmission lined from Ukraine were deliberately cut in an act of sabotage.
The energy ministry has declared a state of emergency in order to deal with the blackout.
“Crimea has been completely cut off,” Krymenergo energy director Viktor Plakida told Russian news agency TASS.
The Crimean Emergencies Ministry has declared a state of emergency due to the complete power outage and has put rescue teams on high alert.
— Eugene Yaroslavsky (@_eyar_) November 21, 2015
Meanwhile, Ukrainian police and journalists simultaneously posted social media reports of explosions in Chaplinka in the Kherson region, where power transmission towers supporting the lines delivering energy to Crimea are located. Photos of severed towers with a Crimean-Tatar flag hanging on one of them have been posted online.
Earlier on Friday, unidentified saboteurs damaged two of Kherson’s four electricity transmission towers, prompting Crimean authorities to issue warnings of possible power cuts. However, when local Ukrainian repairs crews attempted to reach the site, they were blocked by Crimean Tatar activists and Right Sector militants, who proclaimed they were taking the area “under protection,” TASS reported.
The stand-off ended in clashes with Ukrainian riot police, who were dispatched to the site. Several activists were slightly injured, while one police officer was stabbed during the turmoil.
— Телеканал ЗВЕЗДА (@zvezdanews) November 21, 2015
While the Ukrenergo energy company’s maintenance crew finally managed to start the repair work, dozens of Crimean Tatars gathered in Kiev at the presidential administration building to protest the police response. Radical activists called for resistance to any attempts by Ukrainian authorities to undermine the so-called “blockade” of Crimea that has been organized by several activist groups in Kherson and had initially targeted Ukrainian vehicles transporting goods for sale to the peninsula.
Crimea ‘in standalone mode’
The Crimean power grid has been working in standalone mode since the incident. “Due to the complete shut off from the Ukrainian power grid, Crimean grid is operating in standalone mode,” TASS quoted a local emergency response unit as saying.
All Crimean medical facilities are connected to backup power supplies and their operations will not be affected, Crimea’s first vice premier, Mikhail Sheremet, told journalists.
TV and radio broadcasting services will not be interrupted and are currently using an autonomous power supply, Russia’s Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications said.
However, Sheremet warned that Crimea will be able to make up for no more than 50 percent of its daily power consumption autonomously, even after resorting to additional wind power and solar energy.
“Our demand today is 1200 Megawatt. At the present point, with all the power sources, we could have about 600 Megawatt. This is under the most favorable conditions,” the official predicted.