Dmitry Rogulin / TASS
Ukraine’s national security council has ruled to halt
all cargo traffic passing between government-held areas and the
separatist-controlled regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.
Council Secretary Oleksandr Turchynov said that traffic
would remain blocked until the Russian-backed separatists handed over control
over coal mines in Donbass and fulfill their part of the 2015 Minsk
Exceptions will be made for humanitarian cargo, Ukrainian president
Petro Poroshenko has said.
The decision comes as Kiev tries to end a rail and road
blockade imposed by nationalist Ukrainian activists opposed to all forms of
trade with the breakaway republics. The blockades, which have been ongoing
since January, have caused severe material shortages of coal and iron ore in both government and separatist areas. The Ukrainian authorities in Kiev has repeatedly urged demonstrators to call off the blockade, citing fears of blackouts.
Forces in Donetsk retaliated on March 1, when separatist troops seized independently-owned industrial assets based in rebel territory. Many belong to Ukraine's richest man, Rinat Akhmetov. Some 40 mines and enrichment plans were seized, according to separatist forces, who described the move as "re-nationalization."