May 11, 2016 / 1:12 PM / 3 years ago

Russia boosts power supplies to annexed Crimea

SOCHI, Russia May 11 (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin oversaw on Wednesday the launch of a fourth and final electricity line from Russia to Crimea, which will almost completely end the peninsula’s reliance on the Ukrainian grid for its power.

Crimea was annexed by Russia from Ukraine in March 2014 following the flight of pro-Moscow Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich from Kiev as a result of violent street protests.

The peninsula has since suffered massive and prolonged power blackouts due to disruption of power flows by land from Ukraine.

The region plunged into darkness last November after electricity pylons in southern Ukraine that carry the lines supplying Crimea with the bulk of its power were blown up by unidentified people.

The authorities in Ukraine, where anger over the annexation is still raw, have shown little urgency in restoring the power supplies.

Moscow’s response has been to speed up work on a so-called “energy bridge” - a series of cables along the seabed - it is building across the Kerch Strait that separates Russia from Crimea.

On Wednesday, Putin flagged the launch of the last power line to Crimea via a video link from his Black Sea residence in Sochi, Russia. This new line will bring total power supplies to Crimea to 800 Megawatts, which combined with the peninsula’s own capacity will be enough to satisfy its demand.

Crimea will have complete power self-sufficiency after completion of power stations that are under construction in the Crimean cities of Sevastopol and Simferopol.

Russia denies annexing Crimea, saying residents there voted to become part of Russia, and that Moscow acted to protect their freely-expressed will. (Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by Dmitry Solovyov)

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