Ukrainian Energy Minister – POLITICO

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Western countries must send more advanced air defense systems to Ukraine to reduce the risk of Russian missile strikes hitting a nuclear power plant, the country’s energy minister has said, after Ukraine suffered a ninth “massive” wave of missile strikes against its energy infrastructure.

Speaking to POLITICO from his office in Kyiv following the latest Russian bombardment, German Galushchenko said Ukraine did not expect a let-up in President Vladimir Putin’s assault on the country’s energy supply and warned that a nuclear facility could easily be deliberately or accidentally hit in future attacks. .

Friday’s shelling damaged at least eight heating or power generation facilities, as well as electrical substations across the country, affecting the power supply of millions of Ukrainians, he added.

“We can expect everything from [Russia]after what they do,” Galushchenko said.

Citing an attack in September, when a missile landed near the nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine, he added: “When they try to target a [non-nuclear] production facility or substation, these missiles are flying all around Ukraine. We have videos of missiles flying near a nuclear unit. We had an accident [near] Southern Ukraine… Looks like an accidental missile drop, but that drop was about 100 meters from the nuclear unit.

Galushchenko said it was vital for the country to receive more air defenses in winter to reduce the risk of a nuclear accident and to maintain electricity and heating supplies for millions of Ukrainians. “It’s essential,” he said. “We need more modern systems… Countries must do everything and not wait.”

The United States reportedly intends to send advanced Patriot missile systems to Ukraine, a move which Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said would have unspecified “consequences”.

Russia fired more than 70 missiles at Ukraine in Friday’s bombardment, Galushchenko said, making it the ninth such “massive attack” – comprising between 70 and 100 missiles – since Russia began target Ukrainian energy infrastructure on October 10.

But since then there have been smaller-scale attacks on critical infrastructure on a daily basis, Galuschenko said, with attacks now combining missiles, Iranian-made drones and artillery.

“It is an experience that no country in the world has faced before. [There is] no one you can call for advice on what to do in this situation,” Galushchenko said, adding that engineers sometimes repair key infrastructure only to be attacked again a few days later. “We fix, they hit again, like running in a circle,” he said.

“We are grateful to the countries that have provided us with all kinds of energy equipment to help us repair quickly. But if countries can provide [new] air protection systems that will help much more. In this situation, they will not be able to hit our production facilities in the first place. »

Galushchenko called on allies to send Ukraine more supplies of replacement power transformers, which transfer high-voltage electricity sent from power stations into low-voltage electricity used on local power grids. He also said EU countries should expand their sanctions on Russian energy, including price caps on imported Russian gas, and sanctions on Russia’s atomic sector, including nuclear fuel.

“I hope we will maintain the system, but it could be useful temporarily whenever we need more time to prepare,” said German Galuschenko, Ukrainian Energy Minister | Sergei Supinsky/AFP via Getty Images

Asked if Ukrainian cities already accustomed to planned blackouts for hours every day could face more prolonged blackouts this winter, Galuschenko said it would depend on the extent of Russian attacks and the weather, but added that the government was prepared for “worst-case scenarios”, with designated places in towns for people to get heat, water and charge their phones.

“Hopefully we’ll keep the system going, but it could be useful temporarily whenever we need more time to prepare,” Galuschenko said.

“[Russia] cannot win on the battlefield so now they are starting this terror against the civilians,” he added. “We call it the ‘energy front’. This only adds to the unity and the desire to win this war.


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