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A fire following shelling at an energy infrastructure facility in Kyiv, October 18, 2022

Millions without power across Ukraine Russia has been attacking Ukraine’s energy system for two weeks

Source: Meduza
A fire following shelling at an energy infrastructure facility in Kyiv, October 18, 2022
A fire following shelling at an energy infrastructure facility in Kyiv, October 18, 2022
State Emergency Service of Ukraine / EPA / Scanpix / LETA

On October 22, Russia again attacked a number of energy infrastructure targets throughout Ukraine, leaving at least 1.5 million without power. Ukrenergo, the state energy company, says today’s attacks caused damaged comparable to, and possibly exceeding, the damage from Russian attacks in the days after the explosion on the Crimean Bridge. Russian strikes on the Ukrainian energy system have been ongoing since the explosion

The Ukrainian energy system has again been subject to massive missile attacks from the Russian side. At least nine regions in the southern, central, and western parts of the country recorded projectile strikes or air defense operations. Volyn, Khmelnytsky, Odesa, Rivne, Kirovohrad, and Cherkasy regions reported explosions. Kyiv, Chernivtsi, and Lviv regions reported enemy missiles shot down.

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the Office of the President, said that following missile strikes 672,000 customers were without power in Khmelnytsky; in Mikolaiv – 188,000; in Volyn – 102,000; in Cherkasy – 242,000; in Rivne – almost 175,000; in Kirovohrad – almost 62,000; and in Odesa – 10,500.

The power was out in several cities because of the strikes. Five missiles were launched on Kyiv but they were shot down, said presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovich. The Khmelnytsky city council reported that the city was without power, and it advised residents to conserve water, since it too will also be cut off. Ihor Polishchuk, the mayor of Lutsk, in the Volyn region, said that energy facilities were damaged. According to him, the city was partially without power. Polishchuk also called on residents to conserve water. Ihor Chaika, mayor of Kovel, also in the Volyn region, gave residents the same advice.

Residents of various settlements in the Odesa and Kirovohrad regions reported blackouts. Two parts of the Cherkasy region were partially or fully without electricity. Ihor Taburets, head of the region, said that kamikaze drones attacked the region and damaged a piece of critical infrastructure.

The wide-scale damage from today’s attacks “comparable or possibly exceeds” the damage from shelling in the days after the explosion on the Crimean Bridge, says Ukrainian energy utility Ukrenergo. “Repair crews will begin restoring power as soon as rescuers from emergency services deal with the consequences of the missile strikes,” the company announced, assuring Ukrainians that it would restore power in affected regions as soon as possible.

Ukrenergo added that it had to limit energy supply to a number of regions, in order to “reduce the load on the network and avoid repeated accidents.” Rolling blackouts began in Ukraine on October 20 to reduce the load on its damaged energy system.

Borodyanka resident Tatyana Safonova and her cat, Asya, when the lights went out, October 20, 2022.
Paula Bronstein / Getty Images

Andriy Yermak, head of the Office of the President of Ukraine commented on the latest attack on the energy system with the words “never mind, we’ll survive.” “Russians’ dream of problems in the rear stopping the liberation of Ukrainian territory is infantile. We’re only becoming fiercer every day. And that means we’ll have an even stronger response,” he said. After the first wave of shelling on October 22, several cities announced air raids (Kyiv had three in a day) and explosions were heard.

Russia began regularly attacking Ukrainian energy facilities after the October 8 explosion on the Crimean Bridge. Russian authorities blamed Ukrainian intelligence agencies for organizing the explosion. Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky denies that version of events, saying “we definitely didn’t order it, as far as I know.” He suggested that the explosion was the result of an internal power struggle between the Russian military and intelligence services.

Since October 10, Russian attacks have damaged 30 to 40 percent of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, energy minister Herman Halushchenko said on October 21. According to him, Russian forces shelled a number of thermal power plants this week, damaging 50 percent of their capacity. One option for Ukraine is to import energy, and some traders have already entered discussions with providers, Halushchenko said.

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