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The blockade organizers boasted over social media that they have stopped some 74,000 cargo cars from crossing the disengagement line between Kiev-controlled and rebel-held parts of Ukraine.
Thousands of wagons filled with coal cannot leave the Donbass area, Donetsk Region, as pro-Kiev activists block train lines leading to government-controlled territories.
The nationalists argue that buying coal from mines controlled by the rebels in the East is equivalent to treason. However, without the necessary coal supplies Ukrainian power plants are threatened with closure.
Kiev has declared a state of emergency for the nation’s energy industry.
RT: The rail tracks were cordoned off some time ago by Ukrainian nationalist activists and MPs. What do you think they are trying to gain here?
Jim Jatras: Frankly, I think they are not sure what to do. They know that this is extremely damaging to the Ukrainian economy, as of February 15 they said they had 40 days reserve and we’re going to be coming up on the exhaustion of those reserves very quickly. The Prime Minister Mr. [Volodymyr] Groysman has said that 300,000 jobs are potentially going to be lost here if they are not able to maintain coal supplies – this is 12 percent of the country’s production. They cannot sustain this. You would think that this kind of illegal activity – there is no legal authority for this blockade – would be something that the government would step in. I can only imagine that they don’t do it because they feel too weak to do it. They are afraid of the kind of ultranationalists that are behind this, and that if they try to take forceful action against them, it will provoke a resort to violence that they may not be able to handle.