16 March 2017

As Tensions Rise Ukraine Blocks All Road Haulage Freight and Rail Borne Cargo  

Eastern Separatist Areas to be Starved of Commerce

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Shipping News Feature UKRAINE – Tensions between Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists have escalated in recent days leading to a decision by the Ukrainian Government to block all road haulage freight and rail cargo into and out of the rebel-held eastern territory. The action formalises an unauthorised rail blockade set up by Ukrainian activists and will reportedly remain in place until the 2015 cease-fire agreement is upheld and the return of the steel and coal businesses, seized within the separatist held territory, are returned to Ukrainian jurisdiction.

Separatists from the self-declared Donetsk and Lugansk republics declared the industries were under their control earlier this month leading to the unauthorised rail blockade which had been set up by factions opposing any trade with them. The Ukrainian government had initially sought to end this blockade but has now declared a ‘temporary’ official ban on trade with the areas annexed by Russia in a unilateral move which remains unrecognised by the international community.

The new suspension came into force at 11:00 UTC on Wednesday and sees forces from the National Police and the National Guard covering all the motorways and railways leading to the rebel-held territory in an effort to prohibit the transportation of any cargo in the region. Separatist spokesmen say coal is already being shipped to Russia, and with access to the Black Sea via the Sea of Asov coastline which borders the province of Donetsk, it is hard to see how Ukraine could achieve a complete blockade of the region.

Meanwhile the death toll rises as sporadic fighting continues with reports of shelling and gunfire in the Donbass region, home to the internationally known football team Shaktar Donetsk FC, with estimates of 10,000 plus killed since Russia’s first encroachment in 2014.

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