Ukraine – Russia war: what damage did Moscow do to the power supply?
Ukrainians are prepared for two or three winter power outages caused by Russian airstrikes, says first lady Olena Zelenska.
Across Ukraine, missile and drone attacks have left millions without electricity, heat and water.
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What damage is Russia doing to Ukraine’s electricity supply?
After suffering setbacks on the battlefield, Russian troops concentrated on striking Ukrainian electrical installations, fuel depots and hydraulic works.
Ukraine’s national electricity company, Ukrenergo, said the damage to electrical installations was so severe that 50% of demand could not be met.
According to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, about six million people are without electricity.
Power stations were hit across the country, from the capital Kyiv to Odesa in the south and Vinnytsia in the west.
The power outage has left many people without heating, as temperatures dip below zero in many parts of Ukraine.
According to electricity supplier Yasno, Ukrainians are at risk of blackouts until March.
The European Union has released funds to purchase equipment such as generators and power cables to restore electricity supply, through the Ukraine Energy Support Fund.
Three nuclear power plants were cut off from the grid for two days due to air raids.
UN experts also fear shelling around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant – the largest in Europe – could cause a radioactive leak.
The shells fell near the reactor and hit the radioactive waste storage building at the plant, but did not cause serious damage.
Ukraine and Russia blame each other for the shooting.
Why is Russia targeting power systems?
According to Marina Miron, a defense researcher at King’s College London, attacks on power infrastructure were aimed at undermining the morale of Ukraine’s civilian population.
“The Russians think that if people are cold and desperate, they might revolt against their government,” he said.
However, Olena Zelenska told BBC News that Ukrainians were prepared to go without electricity if independence allowed their country and if there were prospects of joining the European Union.
The Ukrainian government is urging civilians to evacuate certain areas where facilities such as power plants have been badly affected, rather than trying to winter there.
He advises people living in the Kherson and Mykolaiv regions in southwest Ukraine to travel to the western and central regions of the country.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says it has recorded 703 attacks, or threats of attack, on health facilities in Ukraine since the first Russian invasion in February.
Hundreds of hospitals and health facilities are “no longer fully operational, running out of fuel, water and electricity to meet basic needs”, said Dr Hans Kluge, WHO Regional Director of Health. ‘Europe. According to him, this situation endangers millions of lives.
The WHO called for opening “sanitary corridors” to deliver aid to Russian-occupied areas, such as the Donbass, and to areas recently re-occupied by Ukrainian forces, such as the Kherson region.
Are attacks on electrical and sanitary installations a war crime?
According to the Geneva Convention, deliberately attacking civilians, or infrastructure essential to their survival, constitutes a war crime.
Dr Kluge called the attacks on health facilities “a violation of international humanitarian law and the rules of war”.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Russian missile and drone attacks on power plants and other facilities in Ukraine were “sheer acts of terror”.
He said “targeted attacks on civilian infrastructure” were war crimes.