DONBASS-ABKHAZIA COAL EXPORT SCHEME, IF IMPLEMENTED, TO PROVIDE SEPARATIST ENTITIES IN UKRAINE AND GEORGIA WITH ADDITIONAL REVENUES
On 19th February, Janes.com reported that on 9th February, the Ukrainian investigative online platform InformNapalm published a detailed report on the Russian government’s alleged plans to start exporting coal from the separatist-controlled areas in eastern Ukraine (the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) and Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) in eastern Ukraine), via Russia and Georgia’s breakaway region of Abkhazia to Turkey. Janes.com warns that any exports from Donbass via Abkhazia are likely to be mislabelled as Russian-produced, thus elevating corruption risks in the Russian coal sector by increasing risks for prospective foreign buyers and that, for its own reasons, Georgia is unlikely to intercept trade vessels engaged in illicit trade. If the coal export scheme succeeds, Russia will likely encourage the Donbass separatist entities to export other commodities, including metals, chemicals and grains, via Abkhazia.
InformNapalm also refers to another coal supply scheme from the occupied Donbas to EU countries, said to have been uncovered by journalists in Poland, and was said to have been organised by the former “Deputy Minister of Fuel and Energy” of the LPR Alexander Melnichuk.