Ukraine Braces for Another Winter of Russian Strikes on Energy Infrastructure

As winter nears and temperatures plummet, Ukraine is preparing itself for the possibility of another winter of Russian strikes on energy infrastructure — a tactic that was heavily deployed by Russia's military 12 months ago. Rolling blackouts became a feature of life in many areas of Ukraine, i...

Ukraine Braces for Another Winter of Russian Strikes on Energy Infrastructure
Image credit: Zinchenko/Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images News via Getty Images (Jan. 20, 2023)

Facts

  • As winter nears and temperatures plummet, Ukraine is preparing itself for the possibility of another winter of Russian strikes on energy infrastructure — a tactic that was heavily deployed by Russia's military 12 months ago. Rolling blackouts became a feature of life in many areas of Ukraine, including Kyiv.1
  • On Thursday, Ukrainian Pres. Volodymyr Zelenskyy told reporters, 'We are in better condition than last year, but I do not believe that Russia will use fewer weapons.'1
  • In his nightly address the same day, Zelenskyy said this effort to be better prepared included shoring up Ukraine's air defenses, stating that Ukraine's ability to defend its skies was constantly improving, although a lot of work was still required. 'Cities like Kharkiv, regions like Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia need more systems, more security,' Zelenskyy said. 'This is the task of all our diplomats, of our entire state.'2
  • On Friday, the US announced it will provide Ukraine with an additional $500M to shore up its energy infrastructure. Geoffrey Pyatt, the Assistant Secretary of State for Energy, said that funds were mainly aimed at meeting urgent needs, such as replacing transformers.3
  • Meanwhile, Nataliya Humenyuk, a spokeswoman for Ukraine's Southern Military Command, alleged that Russia had stockpiled more than 800 missiles in Crimea for the purpose of striking Ukraine's energy this winter. [She did not provide evidence for her claim and the number of missiles in Russian arsenals cannot be independently confirmed.]4
  • Nonetheless, Russia did appear to continue the tactic of striking energy infrastructure. Oleksandr Prokudin, head of Ukraine's military administration in Kherson, said on Thursday that a Russian strike destroyed a 'critical infrastructure facility' in the village of Bilozerka. One civilian was killed and four more injured in the attack, Prokudin said; he later confirmed that a total of six civilians had been killed in Russian attacks on the Kherson region in the last day.5
  • The region, which was bogged down by flooding earlier in the year, has seen a marked intensification of fighting this week. After Ukraine said it gained a foothold on the east bank of the Dnipro River earlier in the week — which not only cuts through Kherson but divides Russia and Ukraine's control of the region — Ukraine's Marines said on Friday that, with the assistance of other Ukrainian units, the Marines 'conducted a series of successful operations' there. They claimed upwards of 1.2K Russian soldiers were killed since the assault was launched on Nov. 8.6

Sources: 1BNN, 2President, 3Ukrinform, 4Kyiv Post, 5Ukranian News and 6Ukrainska Pravda.

Narratives

  • Pro-establishment narrative, as provided by CNBC. Russia's deliberate targeting of energy infrastructure — unnecessarily increasing the suffering of civilians — amounts to war crimes. This is yet another example of why Russia's aggression in Ukraine must be confronted with Western support.
  • Pro-Russia narrative, as provided by TASS. Attacks on Ukraine's energy infrastructure are a direct consequence of the failure of the country's leadership to meaningfully engage in peace talks and the false mindset that they can defeat Russia on the battlefield. These attacks will stop once a more sober position is reached.

Predictions