Crimea electricity deliveries at centre of Russian spy case: reports

A Russian official has been arrested on suspicion of passing information to NATO member Romania about energy deliveries to Moscow-annexed Crimea, Russian media reported today.

Russia has had difficulty supplying electricity to the Crimean peninsula, which was almost wholly dependent on electricity from Ukraine at the time of Moscow's annexation in 2014.

Karina Tsurkan, a board member of Russian energy company Inter RAO who has dual Russian and Romanian citizenship, was arrested on June 15, according to local news agencies.

Citing anonymous sources in the Russian security services, financial daily RBK Monday said Tsurkan was accused of giving information on "the negotiations for the delivery of electricity to Crimea and the (pro-Russian separatist) republics of Donbas" in eastern Ukraine.

"We received information from the foreign intelligence unit according to which someone was passing on information to Romania, a NATO member, behind which could stand the United States," RBK's source said.

The alleged spying lasted "over a year" and Tsurkan had "contacts with all high-ranking Russian and Ukrainian officials," the source added.

The source went on to say that Tsurkan was passing on "political information on who works with us (Russia) in Ukraine, in the (self-proclaimed) Donetsk People's Republic, and in other regions where we provide electricity." Russian President Vladimir Putin is "of course" aware of the case, the Kremlin's press secretary Dmitry Peskov told journalists today.

Crimea was annexed by Russia four years ago with a military operation followed by a referendum that has not been recognised by Kiev or the West.

Ukraine stopped supplying energy to Crimea in late 2015, leaving the region reliant on an underwater cable running from Russia and inhabitants faced with frequent problems.

In July 2017, abnormally high temperatures in Russia's Krasnodar region led to electricity cuts that brought Crimea to a standstill, with traffic lights not working and trolleybuses stuck.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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