Poland must stop buying coal from the occupied Donbas, said Ukrainian Minister of Energy and Coal Industry Ihor Nasalyk.
“This is not at all partnership-like, and we hope that the Polish government will react to this situation,” Nasalyk said on Wednesday during a meeting with a Polish business in Warsaw, Ukrinform reports.
According to the minister, the origin of the coal can easily be tested with chemical indicators. Nasalyk reiterated that Ukraine does not use anthracite coal from the separatist-controlled territories, and instead imports it from South Africa and other countries.
The minister also said that, thanks to diplomatic efforts, Ukraine was able to stop anthracite shipments from the separatist-controlled territories to Turkey.
Nasalyk’s statement was elicited by an article in the Polish newspaper Dziennik Gazeta Prawna which outlines the scheme according to which coal from the LPR ends up in Poland.
Export of anthracite from the LPR to Poland is done by the Doncoaltrade firm, which was registered in Katowice in 2012. Its chairperson and primary shareholder is Oleksandr Melnychuk, who spent some time as the “deputy minister of energy and coal industry of the LPR”. Another company shareholder was Roman Zyukov, the son of Yuriy Zyukov, former first deputy minister of energy and coal industry of Ukraine. However, one of Roman Zyukov’s assistants reported that Zyukov had sold his share in the company to Melnychuk as early as 2014.
Melnychuk sends Russian coal from the mines he controls, as well as from the small illegal coalmines. The owners of the illegal coalmines sell anthracite for $22 per ton, whereas its official price per ton on the border with Poland is $140. Russia considers this coal an import from Ukraine, since the company which exports it is formally registered in Kyiv. The anthracite is subsequently shipped from Russia to Poland.
The article points out that it is hard to assess how much coal has reached and continues to reach Poland in that way. Calculations are complicated by the fact that this scheme cannot clearly be designated as smuggling, because the ban on exportation from Ukraine only concerns the Crimea.