February 7, 2023

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Snowy Kyiv grappled with power outages amid fears of new attacks

Snowy Kyiv grappled with power outages amid fears of new attacks
  • Ukraine is racing to repair infrastructure hit by Russia
  • Winter sets in with an energy deficit of 20%.
  • Party boss says next week could be ‘really tough’

Kyiv (Reuters) – It snowed in Kyiv and temperatures hovered around freezing on Sunday as waves of Russian air strikes left millions in and around Ukraine’s capital without electricity and central heating.

Grid operator Ukrenergo said the cold weather is gradually increasing consumers’ energy needs even as repair workers race to fix wrecked power facilities.

She added that electricity producers were still unable to resume full power supply after the Russian missile attacks on Wednesday and had no choice but to conserve energy by imposing blackouts.

“The consumption restriction regime is still in place due to a deficit in production capacity, which is currently around 20%,” Okernergo said via Telegram.

Moscow has targeted critical infrastructure in recent weeks with waves of air strikes that have caused widespread power outages and killed civilians. Fresh strikes last Wednesday caused the worst damage yet in the nine-month-old conflict, leaving millions of people without light, water or heat even as temperatures dropped below 0 degrees Celsius (32 Fahrenheit).

David Arakhami, head of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s party, predicted that Russia would carry out new attacks on infrastructure this coming week, and said the week could be “really difficult.”

On Saturday evening, Zelensky said that there are restrictions on the use of electricity in 14 of Ukraine’s 27 regions. He said the restrictions affect more than 100,000 customers in each region. Affected areas included the capital Kyiv and the surrounding area.

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“If consumption increases in the evening, the number of outages may go up,” Zelensky said in his nightly video address, repeating an appeal to citizens to save energy.

“This once again shows how important it is now to save energy and consume it rationally.”

Meteorologists expect the snow to continue in Kyiv, a city of 2.8 million before the war, into the middle of the week while temperatures are expected to remain below freezing.

Four hours of power a day

Sergei Kovalenko, chief operating officer of YASNO, which supplies Kyiv with energy, said Saturday night that the situation in the city had improved but was still “very difficult”. He noted that residents should have access to at least four hours of electricity per day.

“If you didn’t have at least four hours of electricity in the last day, write to DTEK Kyiv Electric Networks, colleagues will help you figure out what the problem is,” Kovalenko wrote on his Facebook page.

YASNO is the retail branch of DTEK, Ukraine’s largest private energy provider.

Oknergo said power outages would continue and urged limited power use.

“We would like to remind you that now every Ukrainian whose home has electricity restored can help bring it back to others faster, simply by consuming electricity in moderation,” she said in a statement Saturday on messaging app Telegram.

Russia has said since it launched its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 that it does not target the civilian population, while the Kremlin said on Thursday that Kyiv could “end the suffering” of its population by meeting Russia’s demands for a solution to the conflict.

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Ukraine on Saturday accused the Kremlin of reviving Joseph Stalin’s “genocide” tactics as Kyiv commemorated the Soviet-era famine that killed millions of Ukrainians in the winter of 1932-33.

“Once they wanted to destroy us with hunger, and now – with darkness and cold,” Zelensky wrote on Telegram. “We can’t be broken.”

Additional reporting by Tom Palmforth in Kyiv and Lydia Kelly AG Melbourne Additional reporting by Pavel Politiuk in Kyiv Editing by Kim Coghill and Frances Kerry

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