SIMFEROPOL (Crimea) (Sputnik) — Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday attended the launch of the first leg of the power line ensuring direct supplies of electricity from Russia's mainland to the Crimean peninsula hit by Ukraine's energy blockade.
"Over 100 kilometers [62 miles] of high-voltage electric power lines have been built, and today we are launching the first leg," Putin announced.
The launch of the first leg will significantly decrease electricity deficit in Crimea, while the construction of the second leg by May 2016 is expected to completely eliminate Crimea's dependency on electricity transit through Ukraine.
Some 1.6 million people out of 2 million living in Crimea have been left without electricity. The Russian government pledged to resolve the issue as soon as possible. Until then, the region will rely on backup power sources.
Crimean authorities said earlier there was little chance that the region would ever be reconnected to Ukraine’s power grid. Ukraine’s radical Right Sector organization pledged on Monday to continue its energy blockade.