WASHINGTON, October 14 (RIA Novosti) - Ukraine is not only facing a gas crisis this coming winter, but also a possible overall energy crisis due to disruptions in coal mining and transportation facilities, said Tatiana Mitrova, head of the Oil and Gas Department at the Russian Academy of Sciences Energy Research Institute (ERI RAS).
"[It is] not just a potential gas crisis, but it will be an overall energy crisis," she said at a Tuesday conference at the Brookings Institute on Ukraine and the European gas market, stressing that the conflict in Ukraine's southeast has affected not only gas supplies, but also coal.
As a result of the Kiev-led military operation in Ukraine's southeast, much of the country's coal supplies have been disrupted. According to statistics from the ERI RAS, out of the 90 mines that were operating in eastern regions of Luhansk and Donetsk before the conflict, only 20 are currently functioning. In addition, the destruction of railroads has significantly disrupted coal transit, Mitrova noted.
Even if the winter is to be relatively mild, Ukraine will still require additional energy, the expert added. Eastern Europe is currently not integrated to meet Ukraine's needs and its geographic location makes deliveries challenging.
"Even for an average winter, I would say, according to our calculations, Ukrainians would need an additional 5-7 billion cubic meters of gas that it can currently get only from Russia, because no other sources are available," said Mitrova.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko are to meet upcoming Thursday to discuss ways to meet Ukraine's energy needs during the winter.
"Hopefully there will be a temporary contract for just six months to go through the wintertime on a temporary price basis," said Mitrova.
"I hope, frankly, that decisions will be made right now to fix some part of this situation," Mitrova concluded, adding that she hopes Putin and Poroshenko will be able to come to a solution before the situation reaches a crisis point and critical energy supplies recede around February or early March.