Live Updates: Russia’s War in Ukraine
More than military bases or transportation hubs in recent weeks, Russia has bombed Ukraine’s electricity and heating distribution networks.
With winter just weeks away, Russian missile and drone strikes hit thermal power plants, electrical substations, transformers and pipelines. The result: power outages, disabled water pumping stations and widespread internet outages.
« This is a terrorist act planned with the help of competent Russian energy experts, which aims to shut down the energy system of Ukraine. That is, to achieve a complete blackout in the country,” said Oleksandr Kharchenko, CEO of the Kyiv Energy Research Center, on Friday.
A strategy emerges: As Russian forces suffered casualties in September and this month, pundits appeared on state media to demand that Ukraine be plunged into a dark, freezing winter as revenge. That now seems to be the goal.
The victims are relatively few but the damage disproportionate. Electrical infrastructure is an obvious, static target that is difficult to defend without an extraordinary array of area defenses, which Ukraine has craved from its Western allies.
Maksym Timchenko, CEO of energy company DTEK, noted in a recent interview that Russia has been very selective in its targeting. He told Ekonomichna Pravda that the strikes were not aimed at generating capacities but at the cogs of distribution: switchgear and transformers, or output equipment from thermal power plants.
Ukrainian authorities are clearly struggling to keep up with an ever-growing list of repairs needed this month, and some infrastructure is beyond repair.