Ukraine braces for power blackouts, fresh Russian attacks on infrastructure

Army soldier figurines are displayed in front of the Ukrainian and Russian flag colors background in this illustration taken, Feb. 13, 2022. — REUTERS/DADO RUVIC/ILLUSTRATION

KYIV — Ukraine is bracing for fresh Russian attacks on its infrastructure, President Volodymyr Zelensky said Sunday, after Kyiv’s mayor urged residents to prepare for a worst-case scenario by making emergency plans to leave town and stay with friends or family.

The country faced a 32 percent deficit in projected power supply Monday, Sergei Kovalenko, CEO of YASNO, a major supplier of energy to the capital, said on his Facebook page.

“This is a lot, and it’s force majeure,” he said. Meanwhile national energy authorities warned of planned outages but also possible further restrictions in the capital and the region around it as well as six further regions of the country.

The warnings followed remarks by Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko urging residents to “consider everything” including a worst-case scenario where the capital loses power and water.

“If you have extended family … or friends outside Kyiv, where there is autonomous water supply, an oven, heating,” he said in a weekend television interview, “please keep in mind the possibility of staying there for a certain amount of time.”

Mr. Zelensky said in his nightly video address that more than 4.5 million consumers were already without power.

“We also understand that the terrorist state is concentrating forces and means for a possible repetition of mass attacks on our infrastructure,” he said. “First of all, energy. In particular, for this, Russia needed Iranian missiles. We are preparing to respond.”

Zelensky did not elaborate on his statement that Russia needed Iranian missiles to target Ukraine’s energy infrastructure.

Iran acknowledged for the first time Saturday that it had supplied Russia with drones Moscow has been using to target power stations and civilian infrastructure but said it did so before the war. Iran’s foreign minister also denied Iran had provided Russia with missiles.

Ukrenergo, the grid operator, said power consumption would have to be cut by 30 percent. — Reuters