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Russia switches tactics of attacks on Ukraine's energy sector – FT

Monday, 8 April 2024, 10:18
Russia switches tactics of attacks on Ukraine's energy sector – FT
A worker of the energy supply company DTEK near the crater after a Russian missile in Kyiv, Ukraine, December 2, 2022. Photo: Serhiy Morgunov for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Russia has switched the tactics of its attacks on Ukraine’s energy sector: it is now deploying high-precision missiles to target power plants in areas that are less well protected than Kyiv. Some of the energy infrastructure facilities Russia has recently struck will not be fully restored until next winter.

Source: Financial Times

Details: "Ukrainian officials said that while not as widespread, the damage that Moscow had inflicted was worse than in the winter of 2022-23, with the apparent aim now being permanent, irreparable damage.

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Russia targeted seven thermal power stations between March 22 and 29 — all in other regions than Kyiv, which has some of the best air defences in the country. The Russian missiles also hit two hydroelectric power stations," the FT reported.

Ukraine did not provide details on the extent of damage at each power plant, but officials said that some, including those in Kharkiv Oblast near the Russian border, were almost completely destroyed, the FT also said.

"Our goal is to restore as much as we can by October," said Maksym Timchenko, chief executive of DTEK, Ukraine’s largest energy producer.

DTEK lost about 80% of its power generation capacity in Russian attacks during the last week of March. Five of DTEK’s thermal plants were forced to halt operations.

Timchenko said there were plans to bring back online those substations and larger power plants that have not been completely destroyed: "Subject to no further attacks, at least 50% of damaged power units will be reconnected to the grid."

"The same number of missiles used in the [2022-23] winter attack are now being directed at five to six energy facilities in one region," said Mariia Tsaturian, head of communications at Ukrenergo, Ukraine’s national transmission system operator.

"They are trying to cut off large industrial regions and cities from the power supply," she said.

Tsaturian said that defence structures could be used to protect smaller substations managed by Ukrenergo from Russian attacks, but it is "very difficult, if not impossible" to cover large power plants, which take "several months or even years" to restore, she explained.

Another key difference from the winter of 2022-23 is that Russia is now also deploying expensive high-precision ballistic missiles, Andrii Herus, head of Ukraine’s parliamentary committee for energy and utilities, said.

Ukraine’s Defence Intelligence estimates that Russia has a sufficient stockpile of missiles to carry out one or two large-scale attacks over the next several weeks.

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