Severe fuel shortage in Transcarpathia – return of the Soviet “card system”

More than 150,000 Hungarians live in Transcarpathia, the westernmost region of Ukraine. After the Russian invasion began, many left the country, but most returned because agricultural work began. Of course, the consequences of the war hit them hard. One of them is the fuel shortage in Transcarpathia, for which many gas stations plan to introduce a Soviet-style “card system” to reduce consumption.

According to Vilaggazdasag, small gas stations have closed, but large chains are still supplied. György Dunda, media correspondent in Ungvár (Uzshorod), said the fuel shortage was getting worse. Consumers are already facing restrictions since they can only buy 10 to 20 liters of gasoline. But the authorities would like to reduce consumption by reintroducing the Soviet “card system”.

The reasons for the fuel shortage are manifold. First, the Russians attack refineries and oil stores. In addition, the oil supply to Belarus and Russia has stopped and the ports are under blockade. Therefore, the supply comes only from Western Europe on trucks. However, this amount does not meet the demand.

Meanwhile, agricultural work has started in the fields and created additional demand. On top of that, prices are skyrocketing. Even if the government has suspended tax and VAT on fuel, it is 30 to 40 percent more expensive than before the war. If the government ends the suspension, prices will multiply, affecting all sectors.

Moreover, the government would like to increase the war tax from 1.5 pc to 3 pc. Introduced in 2014, the new tax is paid by employers. Despite the extra money, military equipment gives rise to strong criticism.

Volunteers are continuously collecting aid and sending food, clothing, night vision goggles, body armor and other non-lethal equipment to the front. Ukraine lacks weapons, so kyiv continues to ask the West for them. The number of internally displaced people continues to rise. Millions of people in eastern Ukraine live in the safest western parts of the country. The number of these refugees amounts to 400,000 in Transcarpathia alone, where approximately 150,000 Hungarians live.

Olena Suljak, the deputy leader of Zelenskiy’s party parliamentary group, said everyone would have housing after the war. He added that people would not be forced to return to the East. Therefore, many could stay in Transcarpathia. Authorities speak of 600,000 new homes needed in western Ukraine. However, no one is talking about the financial sources behind the plan. With GDP shrinking by as much as 40pc in 2022, a housing construction program will likely rely on Western support. kyiv has already received five billion dollars to be able to continue the war and pay social expenses. People think the West owes Ukraine, so they deserve the money they get from Western countries.

On April 28, KárpátHír reported that the reason for the fuel shortage was logistics. The authorities continue to monitor the stores, and Transcarpathia has enough reserves. Vasil Ivanco, deputy chairman of the Transcarpathian Military District, said EU fuel transports would arrive in Ukraine a few months later.

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Source: Vilaggazdasag, KárpátHír

Laura T. Thrasher