KIEV (Reuters) - Ukraine’s state rail company Ukrzaliznytsia said on Friday it would suspend passenger and cargo train services to the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in March, due to security concerns.
Ukrzaliznytsia said cargo trains would be suspended from Friday, while passenger routes would gradually cease running over the weekend and on Monday. It did not say how long the suspensions would be in place or specify what the security concerns were.
“In order to ensure the safety of passengers ... (the railway) will cut the route of trains to Crimea off at Novooleksiyvka and Kherson,” it said in a statement, referring to two towns on the Ukrainian mainland near Crimea.
Russia annexation of Crimea pushed relations between Moscow and the West to their lowest point since the Cold War, and a month later a separatist uprising began in eastern Ukraine.
Although controlled by Moscow, the peninsula’s only land link is with Ukraine and it has remained dependent on the Ukrainian mainland for most of its supplies, including much of its electricity and water.
Mired in a power crisis, Ukraine has also had to ration electricity to all regions, including Crimea, whose annexation it does not recognize.
On Friday the energy ministry said it had cut off power supplies to Crimea for the second time in a week because the peninsula had failed to curb consumption as required.
“There remains an energy deficit in Ukraine and they (Crimea) exceeded their limit and therefore electricity supplies were switched off to them. As soon as they return to the limit, they’ll be reconnected,” an energy ministry spokesman said.
On Tuesday power was cut off to Crimea for the same reason, but supplies resumed within a few hours.
Reporting by Pavel Polityuk; Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Pravin Char