Blackouts hit 3 Ukraine areas after Russian attack

Published March 30, 2024
A view of residential buildings damaged during a Russian missile strike in Kamianske, a city in Ukraine’s Dnipropetrovsk region, on Friday.—Reuters
A view of residential buildings damaged during a Russian missile strike in Kamianske, a city in Ukraine’s Dnipropetrovsk region, on Friday.—Reuters

KYIV: Ukraine imposed emergency blackouts on three regions after Russia fired dozens of missiles and drones at its power stations late on Thursday night.

Moscow has stepped up its aerial bombardment of Ukraine in recent weeks, targeting energy infrastructure in response to deadly Ukrainian assaults on Russia’s border regions.

National grid operator Ukrenergo said its dispatch centre was “forced to apply emergency blackout schedules in the regions of Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kirovograd until the evening”.

Restrictions were already in place in the major cities of Kharkiv and Kryvyi Rih following a Russian strike last week.

“Consumers in other regions are asked to use electricity sparingly and consciously,” Ukrenergo warned.

The attacks come at a difficult time for Ukraine, which is facing critical shortages of air defences to protect its skies and ammunition to defend the front lines.

Ukraine’s foreign ministry said the air attacks were “becoming more frequent and massive, posing an increasing threat to Ukraine’s energy security”.

“Ukraine needs more air defence systems to secure critical infrastructure and protect the population,” Prime Minister Denys Shmygal said in a renewed plea to Kyiv’s Western allies.

The Russian defence ministry acknowledged it had used “long-range air, sea and land-based

precision weapons” to target energy facilities, but said the latter were being used by Ukraine’s “armed forces”.

Both sides accused each other of attacking civilian areas deep behind enemy lines on Friday.

A Russian drone killed a 39-year-old man and wounded another person near Ukraine’s south-eastern city of Nikopol, while an air attack on Kamianske further north injured five people, including a child, authorities in Ukraine said.

Another 50-year-old man, a farmer, was found dead in the southern region of Kherson, its Ukrainian governor said, apparently after the tractor he was operating hit a mine.

In Russia, a Ukrainian drone crashed into an apartment building in the border city of Belgorod, killing a man and wounding two others, the region’s governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said.

‘Use electricity sparingly’

Russia has battered Ukrainian energy infrastructure throughout the war, now in its third year.

President Volodymyr Zelensky has called the attacks “energy terrorism” and the United Nations has described them as illegal.

The air force said Moscow had targeted Ukraine’s “fuel and energy sector” with 99 missiles and drones overnight, 84 of which were shot down. “Russian missiles hit thermal and hydroelectric power plants,” Ukrenergo said.

One of the country’s main energy providers, DTEK, said three thermal power stations had been attacked in the barrage, leaving facilities “severely damaged”.

“After the attack, the power engineers promptly started to deal with the consequences,” the company said in a statement online, adding that one employee had been wounded. The energy ministry said the attack damaged power infrastructure in four regions across central and western Ukraine, causing power cuts and disrupting train traffic.

Published in Dawn, March 30th, 2024

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