Kyiv facing ‘sharp deterioration’ in electric supply after Russian strikes

Supplier tells people living in and around city that blackouts could last ‘a lot longer’ than previously planned

Russia-Ukraine war – latest news updates

Ukrainians living in and around Kyiv have been told of a “sharp deterioration” in the region’s electricity supply after a fresh wave of Russian strikes aimed at sapping public morale as the country’s cold winter approaches.

A local energy supplier, Yasno, warned that existing blackouts could last a lot longer than a previously planned schedule of four-hour outages and that the capital already faced an electricity deficit of about 30% or more.

Oleksiy Kuleba, the governor of the Kyiv region, said the area, including the capital city, was victim of Russian attacks on Ukraine’s national grid. “A number of critical facilities have been disabled,” he added.

Russia has brought Ukraine’s electricity system to a crisis in a little over a fortnight by switching the focus of its missile and drone attacks to power stations and the distribution grid.

In its update, Yasno said Kyiv normally consumed 1,000-2,000MW of electricity but now the estimated available power is 600-800MW. Warning that the overnight destruction had been serious, the company said: “We have a sharp deterioration of the energy supply situation.”

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has previously estimated that 30% of Ukraine’s power stations have been damaged or destroyed, although the figure is now likely to be greater. Gas and water supplies have also been targeted in attacks that began on 10 October, causing disruption that in some cases will takes years to fix.

Although October has been relatively warm by recent standards, the weather turns sharply colder from November and the night-time temperature in many parts of Ukraine can hit lows of -10C (14F) and even -20C.

Zelenskiy said on Wednesday night he had held an emergency meeting to discuss the energy situation earlier that day. Politicians, officials and suppliers discussed how to protect sites, repair damage, and to ensure people would still have energy.

“Conscious energy consumption is now needed by all Ukrainians. Please choose your own scheme for limiting electricity consumption while there is a shortage in the general power system,” the president added.

Ukraine had traditionally enjoyed a surplus of energy but is now facing its most serious civilian crisis since the early phases of the war – with rolling blackouts of several hours becoming normal across the country.

People have been reminded to use electricity sparingly in mornings and evenings, and to carefully regulate the use of energy-intensive appliances, while businesses are frequently operating with sharply reduced lighting to save power.

In Kyiv, some people in the city’s apartment buildings have started leaving small packages of water and snacks in lifts to be used in case people are unfortunate enough to get stuck inside during a blackout.

Three regions around Kyiv, covering the Chernihiv, Cherkasy and Zhytomyr oblasts, would also face a reduced energy supply following the overnight attacks, warned Ukrenergo, the operator of the country’s national grid.

Zelenskiy also discussed the situation at Kakhovka hydroelectric plant, near the current fighting in the south of the country, which Ukraine says Russia has mined and could blow up with devastating consequences for settlements downstream as well as further hitting energy supply.

Russian sources have indicated that if the 30-metre-high dam across the Dnieper River were to be blown up it would be the work of Ukrainians. Fighting continues about 20 miles north of the dam, with Ukraine trying to advance on Kherson, the only city held by Russia west of the Dnieper.

The Ukrainian military said about two dozen Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones had targeted the south of the country after taking off from Crimea. Air defence forces shot down three over the Mykolaiv region, 15 over the Odesa region, and another over the Vinnytsia region, the military said.

Russia’s defence ministry said it had destroyed a Ukrainian military factory producing solid rocket fuel, explosives and gunpowder near the town of Pavlohrad in the Dnipropetrovsk region, as well as repelling Ukrainian advances in the east.

Separately, a senior Russian government official bizarrely suggested Moscow would have the right shoot down commercial western satellites being used to help Ukraine’s war effort, although it was unclear if it had the capacity to carry out the threat.

Konstantin Vorontsov, a senior Russian foreign ministry official, said the use of western satellites to aid the Ukrainian war effort was “an extremely dangerous trend” and he told a UN committee: “Quasi-civilian infrastructure may be a legitimate target for a retaliatory strike.”

The official did not spell out which suppliers he was referring to. Starlink satellites deployed by Elon Musk’s SpaceX company have played a big role in Ukrainian military communications, although relations between the billionaire and Kyiv have soured lately.

Contributor

Dan Sabbagh in Kyiv

The GuardianTramp

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