Russia seeks to deprive Ukrainians of water and electricity

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A fire truck stands in front of a burning electrical substation while extinguishing a fire on September 11, 2022 in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Two people died after a rocket hit an electrical substation on the outskirts of Kharkiv. Explosions in the city sounded at 8 p.m. As a result of the impact of two Russian cruise missiles, the administrative building was destroyed, transformers caught fire. The entire city was completely blacked out for about four hours.

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Ukraine has faced a series of Russian missile attacks on its energy infrastructure this week, causing widespread loss of water and electricity supplies, damaging its communications network and causing blackouts in cities. from the country.

They have affected hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians and there are fears that such attacks, and the likelihood that Russia will continue to target critical infrastructure, will leave civilians very vulnerable as winter approaches.

“The latest figures we have indicate that about 30% of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure has been damaged and the government is doing everything it can to quickly restore everything,” Yuriy Sak, an adviser to the CNBC, told CNBC. Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov. Wednesday.

“With the onset of winter, such attacks could pose serious risks to the civilian population,” he added.

Air raid sirens sounded in several parts of Ukraine earlier this week as emergency services and regional authorities grapple with the death, damage and destruction caused by Russian strikes on Kyiv in the north, the big city ​​of Lviv in the west, Zaporizhzhia in the south and the Donbass in the east.

Russia’s strikes were widely seen as retaliation following an explosion that damaged its prized Kerch Strait bridge, linking the Russian mainland to Crimea (which it illegally annexed in 2014) and used to supply its troops in southern Ukraine.

Kyiv did not claim responsibility for the attack, but that did not stop Moscow from inflicting a series of strikes on critical infrastructure and civilian targets, including residential buildings, educational centers and other spaces. public, although he denied that he was targeting such places.

In Monday’s Russian bombardment alone, 10 thermal power plants and 19 electrical substations were damaged along with 54 residential buildings, according to Ukraine’s Communities and Territorial Development Minister Oleksii Chernyshov.

“Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians have been deprived of water, electricity and heating despite the average temperature in Ukraine being around 45 degrees Fahrenheit (about 7 degrees Celsius) right now,” said- he said Wednesday during a session of the Atlantic Council.

Since October 3, he added, a total of 527 objects of critical infrastructure in the field of heat supply have been damaged as a result of Russian aggression. “My team and I are now working to restore the infrastructure as soon as possible…but we are short on resources,” he said.

Chernyshov said Ukraine needs four specific things to ensure Ukraine can get through these “difficult times”: mobile water treatment plants, mobile thermal power plants, diesel or gas generators and alternative fuels. The need for these things, he said, “is growing as we speak right now.”

Ukraine halted electricity export to the EU (which started in July) earlier this week and the government has also called on Ukrainians to limit their energy consumption, especially during peak hours.

Deliberate targeting

Russia openly admits to targeting Ukraine’s energy infrastructure. On Tuesday, the Russian Ministry of Defense issued a military update on Telegram stating that his forces continue to launch “massive” attacks “using high-precision long-range air and sea weaponry at facilities of Ukraine’s military and energy control system.”

Ukraine has unsurprisingly criticized Russia’s targeting of energy facilities, with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy saying on Monday that energy facilities across the country had been hit and that Russia wanted to sow “panic and chaos”.

On Tuesday, following subsequent strikes on these facilities, Foreign Minister Dmytryo Kuleba said the acts were “war crimes planned well in advance and aimed at creating unbearable conditions for civilians – the deliberate strategy of Russia for months”.

Electrical substation destroyed by Russian missile attack, Kharkiv, northeastern Ukraine.

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On Thursday this week, Ukraine’s national grid operator said power was almost fully restored in the country. State energy company Ukrenergo, however, warned it still had work to do to properly repair supplies.

“Ukrenergo employees are dead tired but very satisfied as they restored power supply after the biggest attack on the power system of an independent country in world history,” Ukrenergo said in a message on Telegram. .

Ukrenegro said Russia’s attacks were the largest of their kind in modern history. “Before WWII there were no such advanced power grids, and after WWII there were no large-scale military attacks targeting power infrastructure.”

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The energy operator also warned that while it was able to restore lost power supplies, “it does not mean that we have restored everything that was destroyed and damaged”.

“We have found ways to provide power, but there is still a lot of work to do,” he warned, asking Ukrainians to use electricity wisely, especially during morning rush hours and of the evening.

He noted that 700 Ukrenergo energy workers in 40 repair teams are working to restore the networks 24/7. “Please help them – don’t turn on too many lights and don’t use multiple electrical devices at the same time,” he added.

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