Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 15.01.2019
Russian invader-occupiers are stealing coal which belongs to the people of Ukraine. They are then selling the stolen coal to Western buyers who turn a blind eye to its origins. Profits go towards sustaining the terrorist entities “DPR” and “LPR” in occupied eastern Ukraine and paying for Putin’s War.
The Russian Federation invaded Ukraine in Donbas starting in April 2014. Since the beginning of Russian occupation of some of Luhansk and Donetsk regions, the Putin-Kremlin crime syndicate has stolen about five million tons of coal from Ukraine. The coal is taken by rail through the international border, which only the Russian Federation controls. Poland then becomes the trans-shipment point for Ukrainian anthracite to be sold to the rest of Europe – sold falsely as Russian coal.
The rate of coal theft by the Putin regime from Donbas is increasing. To date, at least $515 million has been taken away from the Ukrainian nation and allocated to the Russian Federation’s war against Ukraine.
Vadym Chernysh provided facts and figures about the theft of coal from Russian-occupied eastern Ukraine. He is the Minister for Temporarily Occupied Territories and Internally Displaced Persons of Ukraine. Speaking to the Ukraine Crisis Media Centre, Minister Chernysh said: “Russians are trying to find sources to support the occupation administration and the occupied territories. … They take Ukrainian coal and Ukrainian gas from the Black Sea shelf using it to support the occupation regime.”
A ship sinking off the coast of Turkey revealed some details about how the chain of coal thievery works. “Coal illegally extracted from occupied Donbas is exported through Russian seaports,” said Minister Chernysh. “For example, the Azov port in Rostov region from where the ship carrying coal departed before sinking off the coast of Turkey, has increased coal trans-shipment by 50 percent in recent years. We witness a similar situation in other Russian ports in the area.” A Panama-flagged cargo vessel, the Volgo Balt 214, sank in rough waters off the Black Sea coast of Turkey on January 7. It was carrying coal from the Russian port of Azov to the port of Samsun, Turkey.
Direct evidence of the theft of coal from occupied Ukraine to the Russian Federation was obtained by OSCE monitors on January 13. On that day, a team from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) was in at the railway station in Voznesenivka, 65 kilometres south-east of Luhansk. The border crossing, the village of Voznesenivka, and the city of Luhansk are under the exclusive control of the Russian Federation.
The OSCE SMM daily report reads, in part: “At the railway station in Voznesenivka, the SMM … observed 60 train wagons, loaded with coal, travelling towards the border with the Russian Federation. In the last wagon, the SMM saw two armed members of the armed formations.” Two armed men then interfered with the the OSCE SMM team’s observation and told them to leave. Stopping the OSCE SMM from doing its job is a violation of the Minsk Agreement – for which the Russian Federation faces no punishment.
Western accomplices of Russian coal thieves finance Putin’s War against Ukraine. Because any coal sold from the Russian Federation may be stolen property, there has to be an embargo on the stuff now. To stop buying coal stolen from Ukraine is the least that Western friends of Ukraine should be doing while Ukrainians are fighting and dying on the battlefront in Donbas to stop Russian aggression.