Ukraine edged closer on April 19, 2017, to halting Russian coal imports for its power plants and focusing its energy reliance on the United States as part of a strategic shift away from Moscow, reported APF.
Energy Minister Igor Nasalyk submitted a draft bill to the Ukrainian government that if approved would ban purchases of Russian coal used in power plants.
He said Ukraine still had some leftover supplies purchased from South Africa by tycoon Rinat Akhmetov for his own holding company's needs that could be used for the coming weeks.
But I hope that the Americans will be our main suppliers, Nasalyk told reporters.
He said the United States was close to signing a contract that would provide Ukraine with up to 4 million tonnes of coal a year.
The former Soviet republic has been forced to purchase anthracite coal from its eastern neighbour after cutting off trade with the Russian-backed industrial separatist east.
The rebel region continued to supply the specific type of coal used for producing heating fuel at thermal power plants to the rest of Ukraine even as the 2 sides waged a 3-year war that has claimed more than 10,000 lives.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko bowed to populist sentiment and imposed a trade blockade on the rebel region on March 15.
But that left the crisis-torn country of about 40 million people without sufficient coal supplies to meet its heating needs.
Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman said in February that Ukraine intended to reduce anthracite coal use to 6 million tonnes per year from 9 once the new heating season starts near the end of the year.
Groysman said Ukraine would begin updating its thermal power plants to make them use gas instead of coal so that no future dependence on Russia arises.
To read the full story in Russian.