‘Energy genocide’: Ukraine pleads for urgent help as Russia blitz on infrastructure grows

Russia is committing “energy genocide” by bombing nearly half of Ukraine’s power infrastructure the government has said, as Ukrainian officials warned the damage could spark Europe’s worst humanitarian catastrophe since the Second World War.

Speaking to The Independent, Energy Minister German Galushchenko said Russia wanted to “sow darkness and despair” with daily “en masse” strikes on the electricity supply chain, which together with the occupation of facilities, has left many without power.

He said at least 40 per cent of its total energy infrastructure has been damaged including massive destruction to green generation facilities.

In total 90 percent of Ukraine’s wind generation and 40 per cent of their solar power capacity has been decommissioned, he added.

Mr Galushchenko spoke as Ukrainian energy officials warned the wave of strikes since 10 October was likely the “largest attack on energy infrastructure in history”.

They said the situation was so critical that Ukraine has had to stop providing electricity to European Union, exports which had been helping Europe replace Russian energy resources.

“Russia cannot win on the battlefield by giving in to our armed forces, so it has decided to go down the path of energy genocide,” Mr Galushcehnko said.

“The Russians are intentionally attacking our energy facilities right now, when the cold has started and energy supply is of particular value to citizens. Their plan is to sow not only darkness, but also despair among Ukrainians.”

He urged the country’s Western partners to provide more air defence systems that could be deployed specifically to protect energy and nuclear facilities.

“We fight for [Europe] too. And we hope that your support will continue, because our skies still need protection,” he implored.

Ukraine’s energy companies also sounded alarm.

Volodymyr Kudrytskyi, chairman of Ukrenergo, Ukraine’s grid operator, told The Independent the barrage of strikes was the “biggest attack on energy infrastructure in history”.

“The scale of these attacks is unseen in the world,” he said. “We are speaking about hundreds of missiles launched specifically at electricity transmission infrastructure. I cannot remember any other instance [where] we have seen such a scale of destruction.”

Meanwhile Antonina Antosha, from DTEK, the largest private energy investor in Ukraine that controls multiple power plants, warned the damage will leave millions of people in the country without light and heat, sparking “the biggest humanitarian disaster since 1945”.

“We are convinced that this is only the beginning and that attacks on other objects will continue. The craziest scenario is an attack on a nuclear power plant,” she added.

Power outages are seen in Kyiv city centre

Ukraine has been plunged into darkness by an unprecedented wave of Russian strikes on the energy grid, right as a bitter winter approaches.

Moscow has repeatedly acknowledged targeting energy infrastructure but denies targeting civilians or violating international law since President Putin launched his invasion of the country in February.

However Amnesty International and other rights groups have said the attacks on the facilities could amount to war crimes.

“The Russian army clearly intends to undermine industrial production, disrupt transportation, sow fear and despair and deprive civilians in Ukraine of heat, electricity and water as the cold grip of winter approaches,” said Marie Struthers, the group’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia Director.

Their plan is to sow not only darkness, but also despair among Ukrainians

German Galushchenko, Ukraine energy minister

A part of Kyiv in darkness during cyclical power cutoffs

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