Ukrainian energy systems on brink of collapse after weeks of Russian bombing – The Washington Post

by | Nov 23, 2022 | Energy

Comment on this storyCommentGift ArticleKYIV, Ukraine — After just six weeks of intense bombing of energy infrastructure, Russia has battered Ukraine to the brink of a humanitarian disaster this winter as millions of people potentially face life-threatening conditions without electricity, heat or running water.As the scope of damage to Ukraine’s energy systems has come into focus in recent days, Ukrainian and Western officials have begun sounding the alarm but are also realizing they have limited recourse. Ukraine’s Soviet-era power system cannot be fixed quickly or easily. In some of the worst-hit cities, there is little officials can do other than to urge residents to flee — raising the risk of economic collapse in Ukraine and a spillover refugee crisis in neighboring European countries.“Put simply, this winter will be about survival,” Dr. Hans Henri P. Kluge, regional director for the World Health Organization, told reporters on Monday in Kyiv, saying the next months could be “life-threatening for millions of Ukrainians.”Already, snow has fallen across much of Ukraine and temperatures are dipping below freezing in many parts of the country. Dr. Kluge said that 2 million to 3 million Ukrainians were expected to leave their homes “in search of warmth and safety,” though it was unclear how many would remain inside the country.On Wednesday, Russia pounded Ukraine with another barrage of missiles, striking energy infrastructure and residential areas across the country, killing at least three people in Kyiv, according to local authorities, and setting off blackouts in much of the country, including Lviv in western Ukraine.AdvertisementUkraine’s Energy Ministry, in a statement, said the bombing left the “great majority of consumers without power.” The strikes caused a temporary shutdown of “of the majority of thermal and hydro-electric plants,” potentially disrupting heat and water supplies.Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley on Nov. 16 said chances were low that Russia or Ukraine would fully conquer all of Ukraine militarily. (Video: The Washington Post)Even before Wednesday’s attacks, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said that about half of the country’s energy infrastructure was “out of order” following the bombardment.The dire warnings indicate that despite a string of losses on the battlefield, Russia’s airstrikes have wrought destruction that will severely test Ukrainians’ national resolve and sharply raise the costs for Kyiv’s Western allies, who are struggling with spiking energy prices in their own countries.Military experts said that Russian President Vladimir Putin was trying to compensate for territorial losses, and to create a sense of war fatigue among Ukraine’s European NATO allies in hopes that they will eventually pressure Kyiv to make concessions and slow arms shipments that enabled Ukraine’s victories.Advertisement“This is all about the weaponization of refugees,” retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, a former commander of U.S. Army Europe, said in a phone interview.“By making Ukraine uninhabitable in the winter time, they are potentially sending millions more Ukrainians to Europe,” Hodges said. “That would put pressure on European g …

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