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

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid