‘We would have been frozen’: People of frigid Ukrainian town thank Russia for gas supply

© Konstantin Chernichkin
People in a freezing town in southern Ukraine have thanked Russia and President Putin for restoring gas supplies on Monday evening. The town’s residents, who have been without gas for several days, pleaded for Russian help during a bitter cold spell.

“Thanks Putin. He promised us gas and he delivered. Without gas we would have been frozen,” a resident from Genichesk told Ruptly.

Genichesk, a port city in the Kherson Region, is home to over 25,000 people, who began suffering severe gas shortages when the thermometers plunged to -14 degrees Celsius over the weekend. By Monday, over 1,500 residents in the Kherson region were left without gas, as authorities struggled with the decreased pressure in a municipal pipeline. Local residents said they were left without gas for at least three days.

Another Genichesk resident said the house where he lives is supplied with gas via a local kindergarten. “We didn’t have it [gas] until yesterday. Now we have gas and the people are grateful,” he said.

One local woman said she was surprised to have managed to prepare meals by gas on Tuesday morning. “In the morning I switched on the cooker and got surprised: it worked!”

The gas supply to the freezing city was turned on Monday evening, according to Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak. Genichesk was scheduled to receive up to 20 thousand cubic meters of Russian gas per day.

With Ukraine winding down natural gas purchases from Russia, the supply of gas from Crimea to the Genichesk district, Kherson region ceased completely, chairman of Ukraine’s Hersongaz, Albert Zangief, confirmed at a briefing on Monday.

“We have informed the population since January 2015 of possible problems with the gas supply during the heating season 2015-2016,” Zangief said, according to UNN, adding that some of the consumers apparently ignored the warnings and were not prepared.

On November 25, Ukraine’s cabinet prohibited importing gas from Russia after Gazprom halted the supply because Ukraine had not paid them for the next delivery. At the same time, Kiev announced it would receive gas from EU states, paid for with a loan from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

Kiev expects the price of Russian gas offered to Kiev to be below $200 per 1,000 cubic meters in the first quarter of this year, in order to return to negotiations over the direct supply contract. Naftogaz has announced a “radical” increase in transit fees for Gazprom.