The United States has sent its first shipment of anthracite coal to Ukraine from the U.S. port of Baltimore under a deal designed to increase Ukraine's energy security.
Pennsylvania-based XCoal Energy and Resources signed a contract with Ukrainian state energy company Centerenergo on July 31 to provide 700,000 tons of anthracite coal in the next few months.
The deal followed talks between Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and U.S. President Donald Trump's administration in June.
The first shipment of 62,000 tons is expected to arrive in Odesa’s Yuzhnyy port in three weeks, Voice of America reported.
At a launching ceremony in Baltimore on August 22, Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States Valeriy Chalyy emphasized the importance of the deal for Ukraine’s energy security.
Most of Ukraine’s anthracite coal, which is the only fuel that can be used by several of its power plants, in the past came from parts of the Donbas that are now controlled by Russia-backed separatists.
Since the conflict in eastern Ukraine broke out in 2014, Kyiv has sought alternative suppliers of coal for electricity generation.
Ukraine's government cut off deliveries of coal from separatist-controlled areas in March, and has been struggling to meet its energy needs since then.
"We appreciate our American friends' support. I'm proud that in the time of war our nations create jobs, create opportunities," Chaly said.
Exports to Ukraine are part of Trump's plan to turn the United States into an energy-exporting superpower, putting it in direct conflict with Russia in Eastern Europe, where Moscow is currently the dominant energy supplier.
Trump's stated goal is to help European countries increase their energy security while reviving jobs lost by U.S. coal miners under Obama administration policies that heavily favored cleaner fuels such as natural gas, wind, and solar power.
For Eastern European states such as Lithuania and Poland, which are heavily dependent on Russian natural gas, Trump has offered to ship liquefied natural gas (LNG) by tanker.
This week, Lithuania is expected to receive a first tanker delivery of LNG from the United States.
With reporting by VOA, the Kyiv Post, and Interfax