Ukraine energy system close to collapse after latest Russian missile barrage

Under-fire country has been subjected to emergency blackouts for weeks

Residents return to view their homes in Vyshhorod, Ukraine, after Wednesday’s missile strikes. Getty Images
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Ukraine’s energy network is teetering on the brink of collapse as the nation struggles to repair its battered grid following the latest wave of Russian cruise missile attacks.

The country has been subjected to emergency blackouts for weeks amid continuing Russian bombardments.

Kyiv's mayor Vitali Klitschko said more than two thirds of the capital was still cut off on Thursday after the previous day’s barrage, despite municipal workers in the capital city restoring some water service overnight.

“Seventy per cent of the capital remains without electricity,” Mr Klitschko said. “Energy companies are making every effort to return it as soon as possible.”

Ukraine accused Russian forces of deploying attack drones and firing about 70 cruise missiles at targets across the country on Wednesday.

Officials said 10 people were killed and about 50 wounded in the strikes, including a newborn baby, who died after a maternity ward in Ukraine's southern Zaporizhzhia region collapsed following a rocket attack.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told the UN Security Council on Wednesday that more than 60 Russian rockets struck energy facilities and civilian objects, plunging much of the country into darkness.

Russia’s Defence Ministry said only energy facilities related to the “military command and control system of Ukraine” had been targeted.

Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said Russian Armed Forces had “launched a massive air, sea and land-based high-precision long-range weapons attack against the military command and control system of Ukraine and related energy facilities”.

He said the operation against energy infrastructure was over.

"The target has been reached, all assigned objects are hit," Mr Konashenkov said.

“I would like to emphasise that not a single strike was made on targets within the city of Kyiv.

“All the destruction announced by the Kyiv regime in the city was the result of the fall of missiles of foreign and Ukrainian air defence systems located in residential areas of the Ukrainian capital.”

Meanwhile, Poland's Defence Minister has asked Germany to ship a Patriot surface-to-air missile defence system — intended for his country — to Ukraine instead to help defend itself against Russia.

The offer follows a deadly missile blast in a Polish village last week, which Warsaw believes may have been from a stray Ukrainian air defence missile launched against a barrage of Russian strikes.

"I have asked Germany to send the Patriot system offered to Poland to Ukraine where it could be installed on their western border," Mariusz Blaszczak said on Twitter late on Wednesday.

"This would allow Ukraine to protect itself against incurring more casualties and blackouts and reinforce the security of our eastern border."

Moscow's targeting of power facilities aims to force Ukraine’s capitulation after nine months of war that has seen Russian forces fail in most of their stated territorial objectives.

“So many victims, so many houses ruined,” 52-year-old Iryna Shyrokova told agencies in Vyshgorod on the outskirts of Kyiv after Wednesday's Russian strikes.

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“People have nowhere to live, nowhere to sleep. It's cold. I can't explain it. What for? We are also human beings,” she said, calling it “the scariest day”.

This month Moscow's troops withdrew from the only regional capital they had captured, destroying key infrastructure as they retreated from Kherson in the south.

Ukraine's Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin said authorities had discovered a total of nine torture sites used by the Russians in Kherson as well as “the bodies of 432 killed civilians”. He did not specify how they were killed.

Wednesday's attacks disconnected three Ukrainian nuclear plants automatically from the national grid and provoked blackouts in neighbouring Moldova, whose energy network is linked to Ukraine.

Ukraine's energy ministry said that all three nuclear facilities had been reconnected by Thursday morning.

The governor of Kharkiv region — home to the country's second-largest city — said the eponymous city was suffering electricity supply issues and “emergency power shutdowns”.

The head of the central region of Poltava, Dmytro Lunin, said authorities were “working around the clock to restore power”.

“In the coming hours, we will start supplying energy to critical infrastructure and then to the majority of households,” he added.

About 50 per cent of central Dnipropetrovsk region had electricity, governor Valentyn Reznichenko said.

“The energy supply situation is complicated. So shutdowns will continue in the region to reduce the pressure on the grid as much as possible,” Mr Reznichenko warned.

Updated: November 24, 2022, 4:51 PM
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