Ukraine cuts off power to part of separatist east

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Ukraine on Tuesday cut off electricity to the insurgent-run area of its eastern Lugansk province over unpaid bills in a step likely to bind the rebel territory closer to Moscow.
Kiev accuses Lugansk rebel authorities of running up an electricity debt of 2.6 billion hryvnias ($97.6 million/90 million euros).
“This past night, we completely halted energy supplies to the temporarily uncontrolled portions of the Lugansk region,” Ukrenergo state power distribution company chief Vsevolod Kovalchuk wrote on Facebook.
Portions of Lugansk and its larger neighbouring province of Donetsk were overrun in 2014 by what the West believes were Russian fighters and locally-allied gunmen.
Ukraine launched a campaign to win back the territories in a conflict that has claimed more than 10,000 lives and damaged Moscow’s relations with the West.
Lugansk’s self-proclaimed emergencies minister Sergei Ivanushkin said the power outage in the region’s biggest cities lasted for less than 40 minutes because “we switched to our own resources”.
Regional rebel leader Vladislav Deinego later told the Interfax news agency that energy-rich Russia immediately helped by sending electricity through existing power lines.

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