© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy listens as he attends a meeting with Ireland’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar (not pictured) at Horodetskyi House, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine July 19, 2023. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne/P
KYIV (Reuters) – President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Sunday that he expects Russia to resume its attacks on Ukraine’s energy system once cold weather returns later this year, and vowed to do everything possible to protect the power grid.
Nearly 40% of the Ukrainian energy system was damaged in Russian missile and drone strikes over the past winter, which plunged Ukrainian cities into darkness and cold in what Kyiv called a deliberate strategy to harm civilians, a war crime. Moscow says it launched the attacks to reduce Ukraine’s ability to fight.
Since warm weather returned, strikes on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure have subsided in place of attacks on other targets. But Zelenskiy said during a visit to the western city of Ivano-Frankivsk on Sunday he expected attacks on energy to resume.
“It is obvious that this fall and…in the winter the enemy will try to repeat the terror against the Ukrainian energy industry. We should be ready for this in any case,” Zelenskiy told senior government, security, and regional officials.
“At the government and security level, we will do everything possible.”
Zelenskiy said the government, security officials and energy workers were working to protect the energy system from physical damage, sabotage or cyberattacks. Every city and town in Ukraine should be ready to handle energy sector emergencies, he added.
Fast repairs, often relying on backup energy equipment sent by Kyiv’s Western partners, helped the country get through the past winter. Energy Minister German Galushchenko expressed confidence this week that Ukraine could meet its generation needs during the cold months.