President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Pasechnik, we wanted to meet yesterday, but the meeting with President Lukashenko ended late, so let us have our conversation today. Go ahead, please.
Acting Head of the Lugansk People’s Republic Leonid Pasechnik: Mr President, first of all I would like to report that the situation in the republic is relatively stable at present, controlled I would say, but tense. The enemy is shelling the territory of the Lugansk People's Republic much less often.
Vladimir Putin: They have other things to worry about at the moment.
Leonid Pasechnik: For some reason, HIMARS are used less often, and if earlier they were used against facilities where military personnel and warehouses with artillery weapons were located, now these are chaotic strikes, which generally land more on the civilian population. One of the last strikes was against Perevalsk: it was a ground strike near a bus station. There is a gas station nearby, a car service and so on. That is, it is not clear what purpose was pursued.
I think the goal is to destabilise the situation and keep pressure on the population.
Vladimir Putin: So, there are no military facilities there at all?
Leonid Pasechnik: Nothing, absolutely none. That is why the situation there is like this today.
Last week, we had a rather serious emergency, if I can call it that. I am talking about the weather conditions. We had heavy snow, a lot of snow, wet and very sticky. Some places had 40 and even around 60 inches of snow. Snow build-up on power lines caused wires and power transmission lines to break. Many trees fell and lots of roofs and cars were destroyed.
Vladimir Putin: It has been a long time since you had anything like that, right?
Leonid Pasechnik: You know, I can’t remember anything like this happening for a very long time.
The Government has fully organised all work to clear the roads. A report was made late on Monday – roads have been fully cleared and it is possible to get practically to any town. Lights are on practically everywhere, including Severodonetsk – in 127 residential buildings we have restored. The only people who are still without lights are private owners with broken wires.
During the emergency, about 210,000 customers were left without electricity, and about 15,000 still are without it as of this moment. We have 80 brigades and groups with 97 pieces of equipment working. The only problem is that water supply is sporadic because when a motor stops pumping, water leaves the pipe and it is impossible to pump it back into it instantly. So when electricity was restored, motors started pumping again. Now we need to fill water pipes to restore water supply. But we have more or less regular electricity, heating and gas supply.
Vladimir Putin: Do you need any help in these recovery efforts?
Leonid Pasechnik: Not at the moment, Mr President but thank you very much.
Vladimir Putin: So you are coping.
Leonid Pasechnik: We are in constant contact with [Deputy Minister of Construction] Valery Leonov and [Deputy Prime Minister] Marat Khusnullin. Everything is organised. I would like to emphasise that the military have helped us a lot. This is completely true. I am talking about our service members in the army and private military contractors – they are great, and the Russian Guard. They helped us with crawler equipment because it was simply impossible to drive through fields and restore anything. At first, there was too much snow. Now it has melted and it is impossible to drive because of too much mud.
But the general situation is stable. We are implementing all tasks set in your instructions to create federal executive government bodies and form different structures, including law enforcement agencies. We are on schedule. We are preparing all documents, everything is according to plan.
Vladimir Putin: We discussed all this yesterday. Relevant instructions will be drafted as we agreed yesterday. I hope they will be a good incentive to speed up work.
Leonid Pasechnik: Thank you very much.