Ukraine's next crisis will be a devastatingly economic one, as violent conflict destroys critical infrastructure in the east and brings key industry to a halt, furthering weakening the energy sector by crippling coal-based electricity production.
The Ukrainian military's showdown with separatists in the industrial east has forced coal mines to severely cut production or close down entirely. This has led to an electricity crisis that can only be staunched by cutting domestic production along with exports to Europe, Crimea, and Belarus -- or worse, getting more imports from Russia.
In the coal centers of Ukraine's industrial east -- Luhansk and Donetsk -- fighting has forced the full closure of an estimated 50 percent of coal mines, while overall coal production has fallen 22 percent over the same period last year.
Key industry sources say they will potentially run out of coal in less than three weeks.