Kyiv’s power grid in ’emergency mode’ amid Russian attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure

Relentless Russian attacks on energy infrastructure prompted Ukrainian authorities on Friday to announce worsening power cuts in the country’s biggest cities, with Kyiv’s mayor warning that the capital’s power grid is operating in “emergency mode ” with energy supplies down 50% from before. war levels.

In the Kyiv region, as winter approaches, the latest damage to utilities is believed to lead to outages of four hours or more a day, according to Ukrenergo, the state-owned operator of Ukraine’s high-voltage transmission lines.

But Governor Oleksiy Kuleba warned that “tougher and longer closures will be enforced in the coming days”.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said the city’s power grid was operating in “emergency mode”, and said he hoped Ukrenergo would find ways to address the shortage “in two to three weeks. “.

The former world boxing champion also said new air defense equipment had been deployed in the Ukrainian capital to help defend against Russian drone and missile attacks on energy facilities.

In the Kharkiv region, home to Ukraine’s second-largest city of the same name, Governor Oleg Syniehubov said daily hour-long power cuts would begin on Monday.

Officials across the country have urged people to economize by reducing electricity use during peak hours and avoiding the use of high-voltage appliances.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said last week that 30% of Ukrainian power plants had been destroyed since Russia launched the first wave of targeted infrastructure strikes on October 10.

In the Zaporizhzhia region, Kremlin-appointed officials have urged residents not to switch to daylight saving time with Kyiv and the rest of the country. Russia switched to permanent winter time in 2014.

“We live in the Russian Federation, and our city lives on Moscow time,” said Alexander Volga, the Russian mayor of Enerhodar, where Europe’s largest nuclear power plant is located.

A soldier wearing a Russian flag on his uniform stands guard near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant outside the Russian-controlled town of Enerhodar on August 4. (Alexander Ermoshenko/Reuters)

Meanwhile, inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) were planning to visit two places where Russia alleged, without citing evidence, that Ukraine was making radioactive “dirty bombs”.

IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said inspectors were sent after a written request from the Ukrainian government.

Moscow has repeatedly made baseless claims that Ukraine is preparing to detonate a device that spreads radioactive waste on its own territory while trying to blame Russia. Western officials have dismissed the claim as misinformation, perhaps intended as a pretext for Russia’s own military escalation.

Russian bombings

Meanwhile, Russian missile and artillery barrages pounded targets across Ukraine. Several towns across the Dnieper River from the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant were hit, the presidential office said.

The shelling damaged dozens of residential buildings in Nikopol, and power was cut there and to thousands of families in nearby towns.

A Russian S-300 air defense missile destroyed a three-story office building and damaged a new residential building nearby, Mykolaiv regional governor Vitalii Kim said. Russian forces have frequently used converted S-300 missiles to strike ground targets in Ukraine.

A Russian Ka-52 combat helicopter is seen at an unknown location in Ukraine in this photo taken from video released by the Russian Defense Ministry’s press service on Friday. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service/Associated Press)

Moscow also continued its ground advance on the towns of Bakhmut and Avdiikva after a series of reverses in the east. The fighting had turned the entire Donetsk region into “a zone of active hostilities”, according to Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko.

“The civilians who remain in the area live in constant fear without heat or electricity,” Kyrylenko said in televised remarks. “Their enemy is not only the Russian guns but also the cold.”

A Russian takeover of Bakhmut, which remained in Ukrainian hands throughout the war, would pave the way for the Kremlin to push toward other Ukrainian strongholds in the heavily contested Donetsk region. A reinvigorated eastern offensive could also potentially stall or derail Ukraine’s efforts to retake the southern city of Kherson, a gateway to Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

Residents line up for free bread donated by volunteers in Bakhmut, eastern Ukraine, on Friday. (Efrem Lukatsky/Associated Press)

Last month Putin also illegally annexed Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia regions. Much of the fighting since then has appeared aimed at consolidating Moscow’s control over the territory, which Putin has brought under martial law.

Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai reported on Friday that Russian troops had withdrawn from some areas; Moscow had claimed the complete capture of Luhansk in July.

“The Russians practically destroyed some villages after they started retreating,” Haidai said. “There are many freshly mobilized Russians in the Luhansk region, but they are dying in droves.” His claim could not be independently verified.

Putin calls for well-trained reservists

Meanwhile, the Russian president has sought to dispel criticism of a chaotic call-up of 300,000 reservists for service in Ukraine by ordering his defense minister to ensure they are properly trained and equipped for combat .

In Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin told Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu that the thousands of reservists who were recently called up need proper training and equipment so that “people feel confident when they must go to battle”.

Shoigu told Putin that 82,000 reservists had been deployed to Ukraine, while another 218,000 were still in training. He said there were no immediate plans to muster more, but Putin’s mobilization order left the door open for a future summons.

On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu at Putin’s state residence in Novo-Ogaryovo, outside Moscow. (Mikhail Metzel/SPUTNIK/AFP/Getty Images)

Putin’s effort to boost troop numbers along the 1,000-kilometre (620-mile) front line follows recent setbacks, including a Russian withdrawal from the Kharkiv region. The mobilization, however, fueled dozens of demonstrations in Russia and prompted hundreds of thousands of men to flee the country.

Activists and Russian media and Associated Press reports said many of the recruits were inexperienced, had to procure basic items themselves such as medical kits and body armor, and that they had not received any training before being sent into combat. Some were killed days after being called.

Shoigu acknowledged that “supply issues existed at the start”, but told Putin they have now been resolved.

Putin ordered Shoigu to come up with ways to reform ground troops and other parts of the military based on their performance in Ukraine.

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