“Russian energy blackmail is an act of genocide against the civilian population in Ukraine and across Europe. Putin has to do these things because he is losing, the army is weak, and he doesn’t have any other options. Ukraine will triumph over all its difficulties with dignity and survive. The restarting of its energy system is going to be a memorable experience for the entire world,” Vitaliy Kropachev, a Ukrainian businessman and philanthropist, said. We spoke about Ukraine’s situation, war, and energy.
Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital and largest city, slowly falls into darkness in the afternoon. In anticipation of the return to life, houses are sometimes illuminated by headlights from cars. A siren sounds to announce an imminent air attack, adding to the depressing atmosphere. A Russian warship fired several missiles from the Caspian Sea. They were most likely headed for the Ukrainian energy infrastructure. The people walking down the street are able to accept the situation. Everyone is going to safe areas without panicking or stress because everyone follows a pre-learned protocol. We continue onwards to the underground parking lot, where we will spend the next 40 minutes talking with Vitaliy Kropachev (a Ukrainian businessman who has many Ukrainian energy assets in his portfolio).
You realize that you are wrong and that life has not left Kyiv when you enter the darkened houses of Kyiv. People still believe in the future, despite the absence of electricity, heat, and water. “There is no room for dispersion. There is no time to feel sorry for oneself. Movement is life. “Now we are one organism that fights the diseases.” – Comments on my assessment of Kropachev’s vision.
Do you compare Russian aggression against Ukraine to a disease?
“I regard every Ukrainian as one organism, from a ZSU soldier fighting on the front lines, to a coal miner at 50 km from the frontline, to a doctor, to the President, and even the mother who sent her children overseas. It is clear that we cannot deny the fact that fighting for our country, freedom, and future is our only option. Yes, Russia is a disease we have suffered from for a long period of time. Now we have the chance to heal. Vitaly confidently reports.
Since the Russian attack on the Ukrainian energy system began, I wanted to speak to the people involved in the market to understand the current situation. Understanding and understanding perspectives. One of the first times I was able to speak with Vitaly Kropachev.
Vitaliy Kropachev, a prominent Ukrainian businessman and philanthropist, is well-known. The UDI Corporation is owned by Vitaliy Kropachev, who owns assets in the power generation, coal and media industries. Zelensky was ranked 63rd among the wealthiest Ukrainians before he came to power in 2019. Born in Torez, Donetsk, on October 4, 1973. Russia is currently occupying the region. He has been in business for more than 20 years. Kropachev was the target of an attack in 2011 by Alexander Yanukovych (the son of ex-president of Ukraine Yanukovych), who attempted to seize his business.
After Russia’s annexation in 2014 of part of Ukraine, he moved to Kyiv to finance the Ukrainian Patriotic Volunteer Battalions. Participated in the formation of the Shakhtersk battalion. He has been in Ukraine since the Russian invasion in February 2022. He continues to be active in business and social life.
Open sources provide a wealth of information about his connections to the former president of Ukraine Poroshenko’s environment. He is accused of having controlled the entire coal sector for many years. This has an impact on Ukraine’s energy system and he certainly knows the situation inside. When I asked him about his connections to Poroshenko who was recently accused in connection with the supply of coal from the occupied territory, he said that he did not know Poroshenko. They have never met. I have never shipped coal from LDNR. My investments in mines and processing plants have enabled the state to stop importing coal. The national production volume grew until 2019. All programs were stopped in 2019, following a change of command. Ukraine began buying coal from Belarus.
I don’t know of any coal mines in Belarus.
It is not a secret that the coal was from the Russian-occupied territories in Ukraine, known as the LDNR. Although coal mining is an important part of the economy in these territories, it is economically impossible to transport the coal far into the Russian Federation. The main consumers of coal from Ukraine have been in the past. The main consumers stopped paying for Belarusian coal in the middle of the 21st century. Multimillion-dollar debts were then accumulated. This was a major economic blow to the economies of these territories.
What is the connection between Russia’s invasion in Ukraine and the cessation or purchase of coal from Belarus?
The Kremlin regards the fall of the USSR as a mistake. Putin believes there is no independent Ukraine or the Ukrainian people. Most of Ukraine’s population disagrees with Putin, and they are now living proof of this. The start of a major war was inevitable in these circumstances. What was used as an excuse was irrelevant.
While it is true that Belarus stopped buying coal, what happened to Ukraine’s economy after this? What is the source of Ukraine’s coal? Can Ukraine abandon all coal like England?
“I believe the war was inevitable, and the reason doesn’t matter. With the appointment of Igor Nasalyk as Minister of Energy in 2016, Ukraine has completely stopped buying coal from these territories and instead focuses on its national production. Although it was difficult, we were able to overcome the obstacles. Mines that I owned produced over 2 million tonnes in total. Factory production was also high. This period saw the Russian budget spending several billion to maintain the occupied territories. National production was stopped completely after the 2019 change of power. We began buying from Belarus. It is important to understand that Ukraine uses coal for its energy and industry. This will make it impossible to abandon the country in the next 30 year. The situation in Ukraine’s energy sector is worsening since the middle of 2021.
Does Ukraine mine coal right now?
“Yes. “Yes. This is our contribution towards victory. We hope the state will see this and begin to repay the debts they owe for the products supplied. It is important to recognize that electricity consumption by citizens is much more expensive than it should be. This is not a deadlock. It requires discussion and compromise.
Why is the Ukrainian government not participating in the dialogue?
There is a dialogue, and the main request for “give us more debt” is made. While we all accepted the Russian blow and are now fighting the enemy together, there are still hotheads at the top who are stuck in the rhetoric of the 2019 elections campaign. The war split the Ukrainians into two camps: those who fought and those who fled or surrendered. It is a grave mistake to divide those who are fighting into different groups. This weakens us. I work in Ukraine. If you have any questions, I am available to answer them. I don’t have anything to hide. It is essential that we win the war on corruption and rebuild the infrastructure of our country.
While you are addressing the problem in the Ukrainian energy sector and stating that there is a solution, you also state that you do not agree with the authorities. This is a crisis that affects both the Ukrainian authorities and large Ukrainian businesses.
“We aren’t talking about business right now. The authorities are focused upon victory and doing everything possible to ensure the quick return of our territories. It is something we all see and do a lot to help. Everybody who wanted to leave Ukraine has already left Ukrainian assets and is now looking for new markets. I believe in the victory for Ukraine and am proud to be part of that group. There is an urgent need for better communication between the relevant ministries, as well as the office of President. Putin created the conditions for a new restart of Ukraine’s energy system by degrading energy facilities. This will be a memorable experience for all peoples. We must unite to create an innovative energy system that uses the most promising innovations from all over the globe.
Putin’s goal of destroying Ukraine’s energy sector is what? These actions could bring down the Ukrainians. How can Ukraine survive without electricity?
“Rockets or bombs won’t stop the production in Ukraine of electricity. We have electricity. Putin doesn’t destroy power generating capacity, but his attacks are directed at the infrastructure that delivers electricity. This is genocide. These are actions that aim to make the lives of civilians more difficult. This has nothing to do military purposes. The entire Kherson garden was covered with posters stating “Russia is here forever “. They are bombing Kherson with banned phosphorus bombs after being pressured by the ZSU. This is an admission to defeat. It is an act of despair. It doesn’t matter if a tank, mine, or nuclear bomb destroys a person’s home. The military arguments in Ukraine have failed. Bakhmut’s situation is a clear indication that the scorched desert strategy does not work. “The Ukrainians won’t be broken.”
What type of assistance does the Ukrainian energy sector most urgently need?
These are spare parts, a repair money, generators, and industrial storage systems. Although most of this nomenclature is possible to be produced on Ukrainian territory, it requires money. It is important that there is no monopolization in the decision-making process for the distribution of funds to restore the energy system. This has been proven to be problematic in cases like the covid situation. However, in the case of road construction, it has resulted in corruption and inefficient utilization of funds. It is especially important if the same people will do it. The state in Ukraine is a bad owner. The competition for recovery should be a fair process. Companies from all parts of the globe will submit their best projects and the winner will be chosen by the relevant ministry. This will involve international experts or an international advisory body. The Ukrainian big business sector is ready for this.
I decided to end this conversation without reaching a conclusion. The war in Ukraine for independence and freedom is well underway. The lyrics of the Ukrainian national anthem are even more relevant in this context: “Neither glory or freedom has yet to die.” Even for us, young brethren, fate will smile. Our enemies will die like the sun’s dew on their faces. Our brothers will reign in our country.”
Vitaliy Kropachev’s conversation was full of technical details about the uniqueities of electricity production and distribution in Ukraine. I chose not to over-examine this information. Kropachev’s main message was that he is willing to help and that dialogue is important. He clearly understands the current situation in the sector of energy and takes many positive steps. On the first day of the European establishment, there was a discussion about transparency in Ukraine’s expenditure of the financial assistance. Maybe the creation of an international advisory body could be the solution. Ukraine is fighting, and we must support it. The symbolic event I wanted to draw attention to was President Zelensky’s evening statement that air defense systems had successfully shot down all missiles from the Caspian Sea toward Ukraine. Ukraine is stronger than ever thanks to international support and we don’t have the moral right not to continue.
This article is shared: