Has Putin’s attack on Ukraine’s electrical system failed?

The arrival of spring is being welcomed by Ukrainians. Although the winter of Russian missile attacks that cut out their power, heating, and water is over, the nights are still chilly.

The very difficult winter was finished, according to President Volodymyr Zelensky. The message was that Ukraine was still hot and that the nation was indestructible.

But until Thursday, Ukraine had not experienced a blackout and even had extra energy in the grid for more than three weeks in a row.

Three weeks had passed without any Russian attacks, and it appeared that Vladimir Putin’s campaign to cut off Ukraine’s supply had been successful.

He accused Kyiv, saying, “Yeah, we’re doing it, but who started it?” in December.

By that moment, the situation was even more desperate. According to a Ukrainian nuclear security specialist, up to half of the energy infrastructure was damaged, and the situation was on the verge of becoming severe.

But, during those peaceful weeks, Moscow stocked up on weapons. It launched 81 missiles early on Thursday, resulting in power outages in four different districts. The second-largest city in Ukraine, Kharkiv, still had a half million residents without electricity as of Friday.

“Right now, it’s quite cold. Even though we have food, only some of it has been prepared “Oleksii stated as he observed his phone’s battery life drop to 14%.

These invincibility centers in Kharkiv have emerged as a lifeline during the winter power outages.
“Invincibility centers” like this one in Kharkiv have emerged as a lifeline during the winter power outages
His apartment complex has 500 residents, and when he went to his neighborhood “invincibility center” to charge his phone, there were too many other individuals who had the same thought.

Another city struck was Kyiv, where a hospital serving 700 patients spent several hours without heat.

Two hours’ drive south of the Belarusian border in Zhytomyr, another 150,000 people were left without electricity. Rolling blackouts are imminent for this city west of Kiev, according to the mayor, and the next few weeks will be crucial.

Yet, Eugene Herasymchuk, a resident, was optimistic about the future as he ended his workday on a bright spring day.

“We had power and three weeks without any attacks. Also, the trolleybuses and trams may be started by local authorities thanks to the system’s power. It was a significant step because before to that, public transportation was suspended.”

And for many Ukrainians, getting back on the grid did not take long.

Tetyana Boyko from civic network Opora declared, “It’s safe to conclude that Ukraine won on the energy front,” hailing the army of energy workers and outside assistance. I believe the worst-case situation is over, but let’s pray.

Residents of Kharkiv, Ukraine, use a generator to power their phones amid a power outage following key civic infrastructure being hit by Russian missile attacks as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues. March 9, 2023
Image caption: In Ukraine, people have developed a variety of strategies for surviving power outages, and generators are highly valued
Although the winter may be ended, Oleksii in Kharkiv feels that as long as Russia has the capability to attack Ukraine, the fight to protect its power supply from Vladimir Putin’s missiles will go on.

Since Russia began its assault on the country’s energy infrastructure last October, every thermal and hydroelectric power plant in Ukraine has suffered damage. Kyiv has already lost access to Zaporizhzhia, the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, because it was under Russian control.

Sub-stations are now little more than rusted-out chunks of metal that can no longer convert electricity into power for buildings.

The BBC followed teams of engineers and technicians working feverishly to undo the damage the missiles had caused for two weeks in the dead of winter.

Six missile or drone strikes on one substation will require some time to replace the damaged transformers.

Paul Adams has more to say: Ukrainian engineers on the front lines

Transformers have quickly surpassed all other items on Ukraine’s wish list. It requires more than the entire world can create in a year, but only one high-voltage transformer has been sent despite the arrival of numerous lower-power devices.

An explosion in a turbine hall
Russian missiles have also targeted turbine halls in an effort to disrupt the power supply, as shown in the image description
Ukraine’s military forces improved their ability to shoot down Russian missiles and drones as the winter went on.

Due to Russia’s use of new, swift weaponry, just 34 of the missiles were destroyed this week. These featured anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles as well as hypersonic Kh-47 Kinzhal missiles.

One industry official stated, “They can inflict enormous, enormous destruction.

There were 15 nuclear reactors operating at four power plants as of February 2022, before Russia’s full-scale war on Ukraine started. In the early stages of the invasion, the occupying military captured six of those reactors from Zaporizhzhia.

The plant has been the focus of a high-stakes nuclear dispute for months due to claims that Moscow wants to connect it to the Russian electrical grid.

South Ukraine, Rivne, and Khmelnytskyi in western Ukraine make up the other three power plants. They currently generate 50% of Ukraine’s power together.

That may sound hopeless, but thanks to a particularly mild winter and unwavering effort, Ukraine has pulled back from the edge and there is a tangible sense of confidence.

Restoration and repairs have been made to power plants. According to a source in the field, as the days grew longer and sunnier, it would be more difficult for Russia’s military power to terrorize his nation.

This week was no different from the previous weeks’ fatal missile attacks on the east-central city of Dnipro.

But, there haven’t been any issues with electricity supplies in weeks.

“The metropolis has changed. The return of street lighting has made city streets less threatening “said Inna Shtanko, a newlywed and mother of a little son.

On February 28, 2023, a tram is seen on the street as normal life goes on despite the Russia-Ukraine war in Dnipro, Ukraine.
picture caption
Life in Dnipro appears to be returning to normal as the trams are operating and the street lights are back.
Her family’s usual activities have resumed, including cooking and taking hot showers. Because our family and other mothers can simply arrange our days, “our psychological state has greatly improved.”

Similar events occurred in Kherson, where Russian soldiers held until they crossed the Dnipro River last November.

After the Russians left the southern city without basic services, life was difficult for a few weeks.

Local entrepreneur Alexei Sandakov stated, “We didn’t have any electricity for nearly a month and a week, then we got it for two hours a day, and then gradually it stopped breaking.

Although the pressure on the system is significantly lower than it was prior to the war due to the 55,000 population being a small portion of what it was before the Soviet invasion, he now claims a reliable power supply.

With fewer people living in Ukraine and more than eight million refugees outside its borders, the demand on the energy infrastructure has also decreased. One official observed that consumption is down and that the refugees have not yet returned.

Children stroll past wrecked cars following a missile attack.
Image caption: Kyiv’s electrical supply was more severely impacted by Russian missile attacks than most
The general consensus is that the harm brought on by this most recent wave of missiles will be soon remedied.

Even after a significant attack, engineers have proven very adept at quickly restoring power. Despite the significant damage.

“How rapidly they can harm us and how quickly we can restore each other is like a race. And we are triumphant in that contest “Oleksandr Kharchenko, the director of the Energy Industry Research Center in Kiev, remarked.

Eugene Herasymchuk thinks things are improving in Zhytomyr. I believe we can handle this because many Ukrainians believe that one cold and gloomy winter is preferable to 100 years with Russia.

According to Mr. Kharchenko, Ukrainians now have everything on their side, including the weather improving, aid from foreign donors, and skilled workers in the energy sector. But he is more cautious with regards to the future.

“I can claim we won the energy battle this winter, but I can’t say we’ve won the energy war.”

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