Coal imports opened a new front in a standoff  between Ukraine and Russia as deputy minister Maksym Nemchynov admitted in a TV interview  Kyiv is not ‘at energy war’ with Moscow.

According to the government official, Russia has blocked coal supplies from Kazakhstan and is ‘not allowing trains carrying coal go to Ukraine’.

He also voiced the concerns over decreased transit gas supplies that exacerbate the energy issues for Kyiv.

Nemchynov said Moscow is doing it ‘on purpose’ to heighten the crisis impacting Ukraine.

Coal is critical for Ukraine’s energy sector due to country’s dependence on it to generate electricity.

Earlier the day, Ukraine’s prime minister Denys Shmygal said the government is ‘closely watching’ coal imports, which must help the country offset the impact of energy issues ahead of winter and seasonal spike in consumption.

The government projections show Ukraine’s seasonal coal consumption averages 10 million tons with 80% coming from domestic suppliers.

Prime-minister said the country will get ‘sufficient’ supplies of coal for winter season as the country has procured ‘contracts’ for two more million tons to be shipped from abroad.

‘Coal is coming… We know and see the schedule of coal supplies to Ukraine. It is coming by sea and by rail. In addition, there coal commissioned by Tsentroenergo, which  is a state-run company’.

The prime minister admitted Ukraine is suffering from ‘irregularities’ in coal supplies due to ‘European and world energy crisis’.