Explosions at Ukrainian transmission towers leave most of Crimea without electricity

MOSCOW – Two electricity transmission towers in Ukraine were damaged by explosions, leaving most of the nearly 2 million people on the disputed Crimean Peninsula without power on Sunday, the Russian Energy Ministry said.

Crimea was annexed by Russia last year but depends on Ukraine for most of its electricity supplies.

Two of the four transmission towers in Kherson, Ukraine, were damaged on Friday. Ukrainian activists calling for an economic blockade of the Black Sea peninsula tried to prevent repair works on Saturday, but retreated after clashes with police.

Around midnight, explosions hit the two other transmission towers, Ukrainian police said. They said it was not immediately clear who was responsible.

Russia’s Energy Ministry said that by Sunday afternoon electricity supplies had been restored to more than a quarter of the population, largely in the major cities, through the use of mobile gas turbine generators.

The Crimean government said it would introduce schedules for supplying electricity and water to households due to the shortage of power-generating capacity. Few buildings in Russia and Ukraine have electrical heat.

Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, which is based in Crimea, was not affected by the power outage, the Interfax news agency reported, citing a fleet spokesman.