Status of Ukraine Energy Grid: Ukraine is preparing for a possible “humanitarian crisis” this winter as President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warns that Russian strikes have knocked out as much as 40% of the country’s energy infrastructure. In a meeting with the European Commission for Energy, Kadri Simson, on Tuesday, Zelenskyy said that Ukraine has already stopped exporting energy to European countries as a result.
In a statement following the meeting, which was shared on Telegram, Zelenskyy described Russia’s most recent missile strikes on critical energy infrastructure as “energy terrorism” and revealed that the pair had “discussed further steps to ensure Ukraine’s energy security, as well as the issue of strengthening energy sanctions against the Russian Federation.”
While stopping the export of energy abroad will help, it may not be enough for Ukraine, where many civilians are already dealing with power outages.
Russia Targets Energy Infrastructure
Ukraine’s energy woes come as a result of a renewed effort from the Russian military to take out the country’s energy infrastructure in a bid to slow down the country’s ability to launch new counter-offensives in the four “annexed” regions of the country.
In his nightly address on Saturday, President Zelenskyy said that Russia launched a new “wide scale” missile campaign targeting civilian and energy infrastructure. The Ukrainian president said his military was continuing to shoot down Russian missiles and drones, noting that 18 out of 33 cruise missiles were successfully destroyed by Ukrainian forces before they reached their targets on Saturday.
“Of course we don’t yet have the technical ability to knock down 100 percent of the Russian missile and drone strikes,” Zelenskyy said. “I am sure that, gradually, we will achieve that, with help from our partners.”
Volodymyr Kudrytskyi, the head of Ukraine’s national grid Ukrenergo, also said this week that “virtually all” of Ukraine’s non-nuclear power stations have been hit by Russian strikes and that 30% of the country’s routing substations had also been impacted.
“This is the biggest missile attack on electricity infrastructure in history,” Kudrytskyi said. “Therefore, the impact is huge. Unfortunately the situation is critical. They are trying to specifically destroy the Ukrainian power system, and this supplies tens of millions of the population.”
If the attacks continue, he said, power outages will become more frequent and last for much longer, and the country could face a humanitarian crisis through the winter.
The United States’ assessment of Russia’s latest missile strike campaign is much the same, with the Pentagon warning in late October of a “widespread impact” on the country’s national power grid.
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“Ukraine has been able to defend against some of these attacks, but damage to the electric grid and water supply are serious concerns directly harming the civilian population,” a senior defense official said.
If Russia keeps it up and has access to enough cruise missiles, Ukraine could be facing a harsh winter.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.
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