June 13, 2015
Translated from Russian by J.Hawk
Yesterday morning an artillery shell damaged a high-pressure gas pipeline linking Kramatorsk with Donetsk and Mariupol. Repair crews have not been able to start work due to shelling. Repairing the pipeline as quickly as possible is crucial, given the potential consequences which may be dramatic and…irreversible.
Kiev declared a hard blockade of the Donbass some time ago. Apart from sharply restricting cargo movements, by a strange coincidence water pipelines which are under junta control and which supply water to the Donbass started malfunctioning. By an equally strange coincidence, railroad links near the front similarly were damaged by explosions. Now the time has come for the gas pipelines. I won’t mention my suspicions.
Figure out who benefits, and chances are you have identified the cause.
In the meantime, let’s talk about what the consequences might be.
Yesterday the DPR People’s Council Chairman Andrey Purgin announced that “Drinking water situation in DPR is simply catastrophic. Their reserves may be exhausted in one month.”
Purgin also explained that DPR authorities are doing everything they can to avert that problem, including supplying the city from the Verkhnekalmius water reservoir. However, even here there may be problems since, according to Purgin, the reservoir is not self-refilling.
Comment: Kiev is not leaving the DPR a choice but to attack. Because in a month it will run out of water and suffer a humanitarian catastrophe. But yesterday’s “accidental” hit on the gas pipeline equalizes matters somewhat. If the gas pipeline is not repaired in two days, according to Taruta the east of Ukraine will suffer an industrial catastrophe:
“The shelling of the Kramatorsk-Donetsk-Mariupol pipeline may cause an industrial catastrphe in the eastern districts of Ukraine. Southern parts of the Donetsk and Zaporozhye region will be deprived of gas supplies, including the cities of Volnovakha, Berdyansk, and Mariupol. If the damange is not repaired immediately, the pipeline will lose pressure which in turn will lead to an industrial catastrophe on Ukraine’s entire territory. By the most optimistic estimates, the repairs would require 1.5-2 months.
Comments: Taruta is naturally exaggerating, but the situation is none too pleasant for Kiev. Major metallurgical plants idled, more than a million Ukrainians left without gas. Once the pressure drops, restoring the supply would indeed take a great deal of time. As long as the pressure remains high, it is easy to resume supplies. But once it goes empty, then one has to close and seal sections of the pipeline (which takes a long time) and then gradually restore supplies, house per house (which also takes a long time). It’s the only way to do it safely. Ukraine will have to form gas worker brigades to help their Donbass colleagues.
And there is no time to make the decision. It had to be made yesterday. Recent readings show that the system will stop in less than two days (as of yesterday evening):
“The city council announced that since in the evening, between 1700 and 2200 hours pressure dropped from 5 to 4.6 kg, if the population adopts conservation measures it will be possible to maintain necessary pressure for the required two days.”
That’s the situation. It doesn’t look good. There is one thing that I can say for sure. If someone doesn’t get their head on straight, then war, active war, will become inevitable in a matter of only a few weeks. DPR simply will have no choice.
P.S. The war is inevitable in any event. I don’t see preconditions for peace. Kiev has made its choice when it started the Donbass blockade. Only if it abandons its strategy is stability possible. But so far we are not seeing it.
J.Hawk’s Comment: It’s a little difficult to believe that DPR was reliant on Ukrainian water all this time, including presumably during the winter battles. It’s even more difficult to believe the Ukrainian government didn’t cut off these supplies even as its front around Debaltsevo was collapsing. So there’s probably more to the story than Purgin lets on.
Moreover, it would seem that the Donbass is getting its gas supplies directly from Russia by now, due to Ukraine’s unwillingness to continue the supplies. So the gas pipeline damage would impact only the Ukrainian side where there are no alternative sources of supply.
However, I don’t see this as a means of pressuring the other side to go to war. It’s more of pressuring the other side to make concessions on the final shape of Ukraine’s constitutional reforms which would include the special status of the Donbass.