News / Europe

Ukrainians Urged to Save Energy as Russian Gas Shortage Hurts

Ukrainians Urged To Save Energy As Russian Gas Shortage Bitesi
X
August 07, 2014 10:59 AM
Residents in Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities are having to cope without hot water, after the government switched off communal boilers in residential housing blocks to save energy. It comes amid growing fears about Ukraine’s ability to survive the coming winter following Russia's decision in June to cut off gas supplies. But as Henry Ridgwell reports from Kyiv, Ukrainians are deploying a new weapon in their gas war with Moscow.
Henry Ridgwell

Residents in Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities are having to cope without hot water after the government switched off communal boilers in residential housing blocks to save energy. This development comes amid growing fears about Ukraine’s ability to survive the coming winter following Russia's decision in June to cut off gas supplies. In response, Ukrainians are deploying a new weapon in their gas war with Moscow.

In a quiet residential park in the suburbs of Kyiv, Natascha and her one-year-old son Sascha enjoy the warm sunshine. But back home, Natascha says looking after an infant is difficult now that the hot water supply has been cut off.

“I can't bathe my baby,” she says. “I can't wash the dishes.The basic things that a human needs are hot water, heating and electricity. If you take away those basic things, how can a person live?”

Kyiv’s Soviet-era housing blocks are supplied with communal heating and hot water from municipal boilers. The system is shut off for a week every summer for cleaning.

But authorities announced this week that the hot water won’t be turned on again until October, to conserve gas supplies for winter. In just a few months, the temperatures will plunge to around minus-20 degrees Celsius.

In past years, Ukraine has relied on cheap gas from Russia, but Moscow cut off supplies in June in a dispute over debt payments.

The deputy chairman of Ukraine’s state-run gas firm Naftogaz, Oleksandr Todiichuk, said his countrymen must prepare for tough times.

He says Ukraine faces a really challenging winter. Right now there are about 15 billion cubic meters of gas in the underground storage tanks, which is about a third of what Ukraine would normally consume this year, he says.

Worsening the problem, Todiichuk said, Ukrainian Black Sea gas platforms are now under Russian control following Moscow’s forceful takeover of Crimea in March. The gas is being pumped back to Russia.

Faced with an energy crisis, Ukraine is deploying a new weapon in its gas war with Russia: energy efficiency.

A movement called Energy Evolution: Conserve Energy, Save Ukraine aims to highlight everyday energy waste - and how it can be reduced.

Polina Bashkina, the organization's spokesperson, says the first goal is to inform Ukrainians that saving energy is good for the economy. The second, she says, is to lessen the shock when gas costs rise, because they are going to keep increasing, and in autumn they will see much higher bills. The third, long-term goal, she says, is to make Ukraine an energy independent country.

Bashkina insists this long-term goal is achievable, despite Ukraine’s historic reliance on Russian energy.

If Ukrainians treat energy efficiently, she says, they could reduce their needs by around 45-48 percent. A reduction of that magnitude would mean a drop in demand of 29 billion cubic meters, which more than Ukraine bought from Russia in 2013.

Neighboring Slovakia has said it will allow the so-called reverse flow of gas from the EU into Ukraine - potentially offering Kyiv a winter lifeline.  In the meantime, campaigners say Ukrainian citizens must cut back on energy use and break their dependence on Russia.

  • Women choose Dutch tomatoes at a supermarket in downtown Moscow, Aug. 7, 2014. The Russian government has banned all imports of meat, fish, milk and milk products, fruits and vegetables from the United States, the European Union, Australia, Canada and Norway, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev announced Aug. 7, 2014.
  • Premier Dmitry Medvedev at the Cabinet meeting announces sanctions, on behalf of the Russian government, banning all imports of meat, fish, milk and milk products, fruits and vegetables from the United States, European Union, Australia, Canada and Norway in Moscow on Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014.
  • Fruit farmers marched in Warsaw to encourage Poles to eat more apples to offset the expected negative effects of a ban that Russia imposed last week on Polish fruit. In this photo, a woman is picking apples to buy at 1.99 zlotys (euro 0.47) per kilo at a supermarket in Warsaw, Poland, Aug. 6, 2014.
  • An activist smokes a cigarette after clashes with a special forces police battalion in Independence Square, Kyiv, Ukraine, Aug. 7, 2014.
  • A woman shops for sweets from an assortment of imported food stuffs at a supermarket in downtown Moscow, Aug. 7, 2014.
  • Imported meat products are displayed at a supermarket in Novosibirsk, about 2,800 kilometers east of Moscow, Russia, Aug. 7, 2014.
  • Activists clash with a special forces police battalion, in Independence Square, Kyiv, Ukraine, Aug. 7, 2014.
  • Worries about Russian troops amassing near the Ukrainian border are pushing stocks slightly lower. Trader Steven Kaplan, left, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, New York, NY, Aug. 6, 2014.

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid