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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More