As they struggle to maintain a power grid heavily damaged by Russian missiles, officials in the Ukrainian capital, kyiv, have begun planning for a previously unthinkable possibility: a complete blackout that would require the evacuation of the approximately three million remaining residents of the city.
As reported this Sunday The New York Times, City officials are currently struggling to maintain a power grid severely damaged by russian missilespoints out the newspaper, which assures that the situation is already very serious, with 40 percent of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure damaged or destroyed.
. As winter approaches, the city is preparing 1,000 heating shelters that can also protect civilians from Russian missiles. Most are inside educational facilities, but the authorities have asked that their exact location not be reported so that they do not become easy targets.
To try to prevent the grid from failing completely, Ukraine’s national power company already said on Saturday that it would continue to impose rolling blackouts in seven regions of the country.
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The tremendous pressure on Ukraine’s ability to supply energy is the result of the widespread shelling by Russian forces critical energy infrastructure across the country, a tactic analysts say the Russian president has resorted to Vladimir Putin when his troops have suffered repeated setbacks on the battlefield.
The damage caused so far by the Russian strikes has caused “new suffering to Ukraine’s civilians and forced officials to consider the possibility that further damage would prevent them from providing basic services,” the newspaper says.
“We understand that if Russia continues with such attacks, we may lose our entire electrical system,” he explained, for his part, Roman Tkachuksecurity director of the kyiv municipal government, to the New York newspaper.
He added that officials in the capital have been told that they are likely to receive at least 12 hours’ notice in case the network is about to fail.
And if that time comes, Tkachuk said, “we will start informing people and asking them to leave” the city.
When Russia launched its latest volley of more than 50 cruise missiles on Monday, most were shot down, according to Ukrainian officials. But those who managed to reach power plants and substations, immediately depriving thousands of people of energy.
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On Friday, another Russian attack hit a company facility that distributes power to homes. This is the twelfth power installation affected in the last month, according to the company.
Across the city, engineers were working to repair damaged electrical infrastructure, despite having no easy way to obtain the hundreds of millions of dollars worth of equipment they would need to fully restore the grid. To reduce damage from future attacks, they were protecting power plants with blast walls.
Ukraine’s national electricity company, Ukrenergo, confirmed on Saturday the need to continue with the blackouts, stating that they were necessary to “reduce the load on the networks, ensure the sustainable balance of the electrical system and prevent the recurrence of accidents after that power grids were damaged by Russian missile and drone strikes.”
The outages will affect kyiv and its surroundings, and the regions of Chernihiv, Cherkasy, Kharkiv, Poltava, Sumy and Zhytomyr, the power company said. At least for now, the situation is manageable and there are no signs that a large number of civilians are fleeing the capital, but this could change quickly if services that depend on power coming into the city were stopped, the official told the paper.
“If there is no electricity, there will be no water or sewage,” he said. “That is why the government and city administration are currently taking all possible measures to protect our energy supply system,” he added.
The Russian Army has spent weeks bombing critical infrastructure throughout Ukraine that has caused water, electricity and gas cuts, which worries the Government of kyiv before the imminent arrival of winter.