Russian attacks on Ukraine power grid touch Kyiv with blackouts ahead of peak demand

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A thermal power plant damaged by a Russian rocket attack in Ukraine on May 21. (AP)

KYIV, Ukraine, May 22, (AP): Sustained Russian attacks on Ukraine’s power grid in recent weeks have forced leaders of the war-ravaged country to institute nationwide rolling blackouts. Without adequate air defenses to counter assaults and allow for repairs, though, the shortages could still worsen as need spikes in late summer and the bitter-cold winter.
The Russian airstrikes targeting the grid since March have meant blackouts have even returned to the capital, Kyiv, which hadn’t experienced them since the first year of the war. Among the strikes were an April barrage that damaged Kyiv’s largest thermal power plant and a massive attack on May 8 that targeted power generation and transmission facilities in several regions.
In all, half of Ukraine’s energy system was damaged, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said.
Entire apartment blocks in the capital went dark. The city’s military administration said at least 10% of consumers were disconnected.
For many, it is a taste of what might be in store if Ukraine doesn’t find other electricity sources before winter.
Before dawn Wednesday, a Russian drone attack on Sumy plunged the northern Ukraine city into darkness. Some power was restored to the city of around a quarter-million people in the morning as crews rushed to repair the damage, local authorities said.
With no end in sight to the attacks on the power grid and without a way to adequately defend against them, there are no quick fixes to the electricity shortages, Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko explained. Ukraine is appealing to Western allies for more air defense systems and spare parts to fix its Soviet-era plants.
“With each attack we lose additional power generation, so it just goes minus, minus, minus,” Halushchenko said Tuesday while standing outside a coal-fired plant in central Ukraine that was destroyed in an April 11 attack. Any efforts to repair the plant would be futile until the military can defend it from another attack.

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