Vladimir Putin’s plan to weaponise winter by targeting Ukraine’s energy infrastructure

Vladimir Putin is targeting Ukraine’s energy supplies – and as winter approaches in the Northern Hemisphere leaving leaders bracing for a brutal fallout.

Ukraine is already appealing to its people to reduce energy consumption to avoid blackouts as Russian missiles continue to target the besieged nation’s energy infrastructure.

Citizens and businesses have been told to reduce electricity consumption between 5pm and 10pm, which Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal hoped would stabilise the power grid after recent damage from Russian missile attacks.

“It is necessary to achieve a deliberate reduction in electricity consumption from 5pm to 10pm across Ukraine by 25 per cent,” he said.

He also asked Ukrainians to be rational with gas and coal use.

“The minimum indoor temperature this winter will be 16 degrees, and the average temperature will be 18,” Mr Shmyhal said.

“This is a necessity, and this is our contribution to victory.”

Thirty per cent of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure was reportedly damaged by Russian strikes since October 10.

Energy Minister Herman Haluschenko told CNN there was a noticeable shift towards Russia “dramatically” targeting energy infrastructure.

The Minister believed the attacks on energy facilities were in response to Ukraine’s energy export to Europe, which: “helps European countries to save on Russian gas and coal”.

On Monday, President Putin confirmed energy targets were among those struck during the most recent assault on Ukraine, claiming Russian missiles hit “all designated targets.”

He said the attack was in response to the downing of the Kerch Strait Bridge in Crimea, despite Ukrainian officials not claiming responsibility.

The Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valerii Zaluzhnyi took to social media to describe the attacks.

“Air defence Assets of air force, Land Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and our air defence units destroyed the majority of lethal missiles and projectiles,” he said.

“With such an intensity of simultaneous attacks from all directions, they have demonstrated professionalism and devotion to their deal.”

Russia using cold ‘as their weapon’

Ukriane’s leaders now claim power was restored to millions since the October 10 strikes, but President Volodymyr Zelensky warned Ukrainians to prepare for more blackouts.

Mr Shmyhal believed the orchestrated attacks were a part of a “sick” Russian ploy to weaponise winter.

“It is important to understand that Russian terrorists will try to use the cold as their weapon,” he said, according to a Reuters report.

Ukraine confirmed Russian missiles and drones hit 28 energy installations in the attacks.

Mykhailo Podolya, an Adviser of president Zelensky, said the government was prepared for strikes on critical infrastructure.

“Russia understood that Ukraine has a powerful energy system, and therefore … attacked distribution substations, which connected (different) regions,” Mr Podolyak told Reuters.

“Thanks to the responsible approach of Ukrainians, who limited their consumption in the evening hours, the system managed.”

He said Ukraine wouldn’t consider retaliatory strikes on Russian energy infrastructure.

“Russia understood that Ukraine has a powerful energy system, and therefore … attacked distribution substations, which connected (different) regions,” Podolyak said.

“Thanks to the responsible approach of Ukrainians, who limited their consumption in the evening hours, the system managed.”

He also ruled out differ away from its “defensive war” with retaliatory strikes on Russian energy infrastructure.

Ukraine has restored power to more than 4,000 towns and villages since the strikes.

Authorities ‘deeply worried’ about major plant

The external power supply to the was restored to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Russian-occupied territory in Ukraine on Wednesday after an outage, linked to the strikes, forced it to switch to diesel generators.

“I’ve been informed by our team on site that external power to Zaporizhzhya NPP is restored,” UN nuclear watchdog Rafael Grossi tweeted.

“ZNPP’s operator says this morning’s outage was caused by shelling damage to a far off substation, highlighting how precarious the situation is.”

On Monday, the plant lost all external power needed for vital safety systems for the second time in five days.

Back-up diesel generators were used to keep nuclear safety and security equipment working during the outage.

“This repeated loss of ZNPP’s off-site power is a deeply worrying development, and it underlines the urgent need for a nuclear safety and security protection zone around the site,” Mr Grossi tweeted.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres recently urged Russian and Ukrainian forces to agree on a “demilitarised perimeter” around the ZNPP.

Mr Guterres demanded: “a commitment by Russian forces to withdraw all military personnel and equipment from that perimeter and a commitment by Ukrainian forces not to move into it.”

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has repeatedly condemned the shelling of the plant and has also proposed a protected zone around the plant.

Russian forces took control of the plant in early March.

Special Russian military units, Russian nuclear specialists and Ukrainian staff operate the plant and control the site.

Originally published as ‘Sick’: Putin’s plan to weaponise winter by targeting Ukraine’s energy infrastructure

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