Since the beginning of the week, Russia has been striking at Ukraine's energy infrastructure facilities. On September 11, power went out in several regions of Ukraine at once. September 12 - in Kharkov. Oleg Savitsky, an expert on climate and energy policy and manager of Stand With Ukraine, told The Insider that Russia is trying to harm the civilian population of Ukraine with these attacks, but without the use of nuclear weapons, it will not be able to disable the country's electrical system.
“If Ukraine cannot sell energy now, it will be more difficult for European countries to provide consumers. This is the scenario that we feared, and experts who understood the risks warned about this back in the summer. They said that when Russia began to face hard defeats, it would turn to terrorist tactics, destroying the energy hubs on which cities depend. Russia will now seek to create a humanitarian crisis and leave as many people as possible without electricity and heat. This is such a fascist tactic - when they lose, they will try to inflict maximum damage on the civilian population, ”said Savitsky.
According to him, the Ukrainian dispatchers "are excellently coping with all the situations that were with the shelling of the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant, and with its shutdown, and this is the largest power." He noted that even now, without the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant, most of the country remains with electricity. “Of course, if they continue to shell large substations or power lines, this is a serious threat to other regions as well. But I don’t think that they will be able to destroy the entire electrical system without nuclear weapons, ”the expert emphasized.
He added that Ukraine started deliveries of equipment for substations back in the spring as part of the emergency assistance from the European Union, and there are still stocks of this equipment. “How sufficient they are and how much they cover all types of equipment, no one will tell you, but in any case, engineers find a solution,” said Savitsky.
The Ukrainian system synchronized with the European one on March 16, three weeks after the start of the invasion. On the night of February 24, Ukraine disconnected from the energy system of Russia and Belarus. “We have been working all this time, relying only on our own power system, which went through this period without problems,” Savitsky recalled.
He noted that at the beginning of the Russian attacks, Ukraine even had a surplus of electricity, “because most of the generating capacities were not damaged, while the industrial one suffered greatly - Mariupol, Kharkiv and other cities, in which many large industrial consumers were destroyed, due to which consumption in the summer fell by 30%.
“We had a surplus, and we exported electricity to the European Union after synchronization. Europe hoped that, to some extent, it would be possible to continue to receive energy from Ukraine due to the large shortage of generation. For example, in Italy, a very large part of electricity is produced from gas,” the expert explained.
On September 5, Zaporozhye NPP for the second time in history was completely disconnected from the power grid connecting the station with the power system of Ukraine. This was due to a fire caused by shelling.
In recent days, against the backdrop of a counter-offensive of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in southern Ukraine, the Russian military again attacked Ukraine's communal infrastructure several times. So, because of the shelling, the backup line that fed the settlements of the Kharkov region failed, as a result of which the region was left without electricity. As the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine writes, infrastructure in the areas of the settlements of Belogorovka, Veselaya Dolina, Zaitsevo, Yuryevka, New York, Pervomayskoye, Kam, Stepnoye, Maly Shcherbaki, Dry Pond, Kostromka, Belaya Krinitsa and Mirnoye was damaged from air strikes and shelling of MLRS.