Ukraine halts electricity exports, calls for conservation after strikes damage grid

AP Photo, File
FILE – A Russian serviceman guards in an area of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station in territory under Russian military control, southeastern Ukraine, on May 1, 2022. Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the biggest in Europe, has lost its last remaining external power source as a result of renewed shelling and is now relying on emergency diesel generators, the U.N. nuclear watchdog said Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022.

Ukraine’s energy ministry said Russia’s strikes on Monday marked the largest attack on the country’s power grid since the start of the invasion, asking residents to conserve power use as officials halt electricity exports.

Russia earlier in the day launched dozens of missiles toward Kyiv and other cities, killing 11 in an escalatory barrage of attacks that Ukrainian officials said targeted the country’s energy infrastructure. The attacks left 15 regions with partially disrupted electricity supplies, officials said.

“The cynicism is that the entire supply chain has been hit — it’s both electricity distribution systems and generation,” Herman Galushchenko, Ukraine’s energy minister, said in a statement.

“The enemy’s goal is to make it difficult to reconnect electricity supplies from other sources,” he added.

Ukraine’s state emergency service urged residents to avoid using energy-consuming devices like electric heaters, electric stoves, microwaves, washing machines and coffee makers between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. local time on Monday.

“Tonight, October 10, the Ukrainian energy system will undergo a stress test of strength,” the agency wrote on its Telegram channel. “And every Ukrainian is capable of helping to pass it. For this, it is necessary to minimize the consumption of electricity.”

Meanwhile, Galushchenko said Ukraine would stop exporting electricity to elsewhere in Europe beginning on Tuesday, noting that Ukraine had continued to meet its export commitments despite previous attacks on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant and other parts of the grid.

“It was the export of electricity from Ukraine that helped Europe reduce the consumption of Russian energy resources. And that is why Russia is destroying our energy system, killing the very possibility of exporting electricity from Ukraine,” said Galushchenko.

European countries, which for years have relied in part on Russian energy exports, have grappled with their energy sourcing ever since Russia invaded Ukraine in February. 

Leaders have looked to wean their countries off Russian exports while keeping prices low amid high global inflation, a situation that has only become more precarious as the winter approaches and residents turn on their household heating systems.

European Union countries agreed on Wednesday to cap the price of Russian oil they transport by sea to other countries — a measure pushed by the Group of Seven — but the specific price point remains unclear. An EU embargo on most Russian oil will take effect on Dec. 5.

EU leaders on Friday, however, could not bridge their differences over a natural gas price cap. Russia has already reduced or cut off natural gas supplies to many EU countries, sending prices soaring.

Efforts to reduce Russia’s ability to finance its war through energy exports took another blow last week when OPEC+, a global alliance of oil-exporting countries that includes Russia, announced it would cut daily production by 2 million barrels to boost prices.

Updated at 4:29 p.m.

Tags russia Russia-Ukraine war Russian gas Russian oil exports ukraine

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