In a speech at the Department of Energy in Washington, DC on Thursday, Trump spoke about the prospects for expanding US coal exports. According to the president, the US is ready to sell its coal to Ukraine, and to other countries around the world.
"Ukraine already tells us they need millions and millions of metric tons [of coal] right now and there are many other places that need it too," Trump said. "And we want to sell it to them and everyone else all over the globe who need it," he added.
The issue of coal supplies was one of the main topics discussed during Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko's visit to Washington last week. Following his talks with US officials, the Ukrainian leader said that Kiev was 'excited' about the possible purchase of two million tons of coal from Pennsylvania.
Speaking to Radio Sputnik, Alexei Belogoryev, the deputy head of the Moscow-based Institute of Energy and Finance, said that if the US does begin delivering coal to Ukraine, the Ukrainian government certainly isn't going to be the one paying for it.
"The logistics will cost about $300 million dollars a year. And it doesn't matter where the coal comes from – the US, South Africa or Australia," the expert explained. "Of course, coal from the Donbass is closer, and the cost to transport it is much lower. But apparently this is the political price that Kiev is ready to pay. But it will not be the government paying it, but energy companies, and ultimately, consumers," he added.
As far as deliveries from the US were concerned, Belogoryev emphasized that coal sales are something that take place between businesses, and political agreements have nothing to do with them.
"In the US, the state's share of the energy sector is very small. Basically these are private companies. Therefore, frankly, assurances from the Trump administration do not play any major role, since this is a matter between private companies among themselves," the analyst said. "Moreover, it's no secret that US coal is already being supplied to the Ukrainian market. Therefore, it's not very clear why these political agreements are needed," he added.
Whatever the case may be, Russian Senate Committee on Economic Policy deputy chairman Valery Vasilyev suggested that political announcements aside, Kiev probably won't be able to replace its existing partners anytime soon.
"No one has canceled the laws of pricing and logistics have yet. Economic laws are such that even if distant supplier countries are interested in the market and ready to engage in dumping, sooner or later they will want to recoup their additional costs," Vasilyev said. Accordingly, the senator noted, Ukrainian consumers will be the ones to pay for Poroshenko's curtsey before Trump.