Journalist’s notebook: ‘Cold’ war in Kyiv as Russia strikes at the country’s energy infrastructure


KYIV, Ukraine – A “cold” war is building here in Ukraine at the hands of Vladimir Putin. As their advance slows on the battlefront, Russian forces target civilian infrastructure. With winter coming and electricity, heating and water running low, this could be Moscow’s most dangerous tactic.

“Militarily, it’s absolutely nothing,” said Ukrainian MP Oleksiy Goncharenko, “but yes, it can cause a lot of suffering for civilians.”

The numbers tell the story. Some 450,000 people were without power in Kyiv last week and nearly 5 million across the country. Some 40% of the electricity network was damaged as well as 80% of the power stations.

Firefighters help a local woman evacuate a residential building destroyed by a Russian drone strike, which local authorities believe were Iranian-made Shahed-136 unmanned aerial vehicles, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine , in Kyiv, Ukraine, on October 17, 2022.
(REUTERS/Vladyslav Musiienko)

JOURNALIST’S NOTEBOOK: BACK TO KYIV AS RUSSIA TARGETS THE CITY WITH DRONES AND MISSILE ATTACKS

The word is that the power managers from when Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union still have all the maps of the power grid, and they pass that information on to the military side. A Kyiv official called these Russian electrical engineers “war criminals.”

The CEO of Ukraine’s largest private utility, DTEK, Maxim Timchenko, said the country was facing the possibility of a “humanitarian catastrophe”.

As we have been reminded, everything these days is interconnected. So if you cut power, you also cut cell phone service, shut down gas stations, turn off refrigerators for food, turn off water pumps, and so on.

No wonder there was a recent report that Kyiv was preparing plans to evacuate the entire city of 3 million if things got worse. Officials told us the story was premature, but they are taking action.

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Officials just announced an increase in hourly emergency outages to save energy. Some 1,000 energy hubs across the city have been opened for people to use. Site security is more on guard with repair crews working around the clock.

Ukraine has been pretty good at shooting down Russian missiles and drones, but some strikes are still in progress. The United States and its allies announced that they were sending more air defense systems and munitions.

The hotel we work at here in Kyiv has a big backup generator, so other than a few flickering lights now and then, we’ve been spared the bulk of the power outages…so far.

However, all it takes is a glimpse of the once bright and now dark city, or walking through the dark and tricky streets, or hearing stories from local employees of how their home fronts are seriously affected, and you will remember the impact of these Russian movements. have here.

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Greg Palkot films in the dark of Kyiv with his cameraman. Some 450,000 people in Kyiv were without power last week following Russia's targeting of Ukraine's energy grid.

Greg Palkot films in the dark of Kyiv with his cameraman. Some 450,000 people in Kyiv were without power last week following Russia’s targeting of Ukraine’s energy grid.
(FoxNews)

Also, no place is really safe. We traveled to the headquarters of DTEK CEO Timchenko to conduct our interview. An air raid forced us to do it in the company’s parking lot turned into a bomb shelter.

Timchenko’s message, however, was not muted. “We have no choice but to defend our country and find a solution,” he told us, “to keep the lights on, to keep this country warm and to keep our people in the fight.”

As temperatures here begin to drop below freezing overnight, their actions couldn’t happen any sooner.

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