Ukrainians faced their first large-scale nationwide disruptions to electricity on Thursday as officials sought to restrict supply to allow energy companies to repair power facilities that have been pounded by Russian air strikes.
There was no schedule announced for outages but major cities such as the capital Kyiv and Kharkiv in the northeast announced curbs on the use of electric-powered public transport such as trolleybuses and reduced the frequency of trains on the metro.
The president’s office told Ukrainians late on Wednesday that they should minimise their use of electricity from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. and prepare for temporary blackouts if this was not done. DTEK, a major electricity supplier in Kyiv, told consumers it would do its best to make sure outages did not last longer than four hours.
The whole northeast region of Sumy which borders Russia said it would go the entire day from 0700 to 2300 local time – without water, electric transport or street lighting. President Volodymyr Zelensky has said that Russian air strikes have damaged 30% of Ukraine’s power stations in just over a week. He said late on Wednesday that three more energy facilities had been hit by attacks that day.
“We need time to restore power plants, we need respite from our consumers,” Volodymyr Kudrytskyi, head of grid operator Ukrenergo, told Ukrainians during wartime television programming early on Thursday.
“Please limit your electricity consumption and use those appliances that consume a lot of energy,” he told Ukrainians in his nightly speech to the nation. One of the facilities that was hit was a major, coal-fired thermal power station in the city of Burshtyn in western Ukraine.
“Unfortunately there is destruction, and it is quite serious,” Svitlana Onyshchuk, Ivano-Frankivsk’s governor, said on Ukrainian television, speaking about that strike. Russia ramped up its attacks on critical infrastructure in Ukraine last week.