Chris Lange, FISM News
Ukraine is facing its first large-scale power disruptions since Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion following another night of Russian air and drone strikes on critical infrastructure facilities.
Ukraine’s presidential office warned citizens to minimize their use of electricity or face temporary blackouts as energy companies worked tirelessly to repair damaged power facilities, Reuters reported. Major cities like Kyiv and Kharkiv have announced curbs on the operation of metro trains and other forms of mass transit. Officials said that a third of all power plants have been struck over the past 10 days.
Ukraine’s energy minister Herman Halushchenko said that Ukrainians have voluntarily complied with requests to reduce energy consumption but that it may not be enough to prevent blackouts.
“We see a drop in consumption,” he said. “We see a voluntary decrease. But when it is not enough, we are forced to bring in forced shutdowns.”
Halushchenko said that Russia has launched more than 300 airstrikes on Ukrainian energy facilities since Oct. 10.
City officials in Burshtyn in Ukraine’s west reported Thursday that a major thermal power station was heavily damaged in a Russian air strike.
“Unfortunately, there is destruction, and it is quite serious,” regional governor Svitlana Onyshchuk said on Ukrainian television.
Russia’s Defense Ministry on Thursday said its forces continued to successfully target Ukrainian energy and military targets over the past 24 hours and that they repelled a Ukrainian counteroffensive in the southern Kherson region where Russian-installed officials have begun evacuating tens of thousands of residents. The massive undertaking was announced on Wednesday amid the days-long counteroffensive by Ukrainian forces in the annexed territory. Ukraine’s army has continued to advance in the region but has struggled to protect power facilities and other utilities from Russian strikes.
Putin declares martial law in annexed regions
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday declared martial law in Kherson and other annexed regions in Ukraine, which Ukraine and the U.N. have said Putin has annexed illegally.
The Kremlin leader made the announcement at a meeting of his Security Council via video link. Russia’s parliament quickly gave its seal of approval to the decree, according to a New York Post report.
Kyiv, which does not recognize Moscow’s seizures of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia, dismissed the move.
“‘Martial law’ implementation on the occupied territories by Russia should be considered only as a pseudo-legalization of (the) looting of Ukrainians’ property,” presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted. “This does not change anything for Ukraine: we continue the liberation and deoccupation of our territories.”
Putin also imposed movement restrictions in and out of eight regions that border Ukraine.
EU nations struggle to come together on gas cap
European Union leaders are kicking off a two-day summit in Brussels today as bloc members struggle to come together on a proposed gas price cap. While a majority of members are ready to back a proposal to cap natural gas prices, Germany and the Netherlands have raised concerns that the undertaking may be too cumbersome and have suggested the cap could bring about unintended consequences.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz recently told Germany’s Parliament that “a politically set price cap always carries the risk that producers then sell their gas elsewhere — and we Europeans ultimately don’t get more gas, but less,” the Associated Press reported.
EU members that dealt with crippling fuel prices over the summer tried to outbid one another to fill their reserves ahead of the winter. Recently, however, the bloc has sought ways to pool joint purchases of gas and create measures to foster solidarity with EU nations.