A Ukrainian energy expert has told Express.co.uk that the UK’s “important” help with energy repairs will go a long way as the country scrambles to recover from the brutal Russian strikes which rained down on the invaded nation in one of the most damaging attacks so far. Previous missile and drone strikes had already targeted 40 percent of Ukraine’s critical energy infrastructure, but Kyiv has lashed out at Moscow for the latest damaging onslaught which came after the G-20 summit in Bali, where world leaders came to a resolution condemning the Russian invasion. But Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Russian President Vladimir Putin is not the least bit concerned with peace talks.
He wrote on Twitter: “Russian missiles are killing people and ruining infrastructure across Ukraine right now. This is what Russia has to say on the issue of peace talks. Stop proposing Ukraine accept Russian ultimatums! This terror can only be stopped with the strength of our weapons and principles.”
His comments came after Russian missiles again battered critical energy infrastructure in Ukraine, with more than 100 missiles hitting electricity and heating infrastructure in what Ukrainian officials say was the most brutal onslaught so far. It left large swathes of Kyiv, Kharkiv, Lviv and Sumy without power, which is becoming an increasingly common experience for the citizens of Ukraine.
Pavlo Kukhta, a Kyiv-based energy expert and former advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, told Express.co.uk that these strikes were some of the most damaging yet, and left up to 10 million people across the country without power. But while the missiles may have been damaging, he was grateful to hear that the UK this week pledged to send extra help to assist with critical repairs.
This could hand an extra lifeline to maintenance workers who are scrambling to make complex and lengthy repairs to the grid while areas undergo periods of rolling blackouts lasting hours. According to the Government, the UK’s funding is set to “provide specialised energy equipment to keep critical national infrastructure up and running”.
Speaking about the UK’s energy support for Ukraine, Mr Kukhta said: “This is definitely important. Number one is anti-air defences and anything that bolsters this as it keeps missiles out of the sky and prevents damage, meaning it is better for everyone.
“But our second best option, which is unfortunately necessary as some missiles still get through…is assistance with repairs, which is very valuable. It is constant, it takes time, it takes a lot of effort and from the maintenance team and requires a lot of materials. Whatever the UK provides, it keeps Ukraine stable, keeps the situation stable and stops it from collapsing.
“Energy substations are complex utility systems that have a lot of different devices, all of which can get damaged when a missile hits, all of which then need to be replaced and repaired. This requires a lot of effort from the maintenance teams and materials. I am pretty sure the UK is providing some of these materials which are logical and very smart.”
The further UK support to keep the lights on across Ukraine in the face of missile attacks forms part of the Ukraine Energy Support Fund, of which Britain is the largest donor so far. Under an agreement with Ukrainian Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko and Energy Community Secretariat Deputy Director Dirk Buschle, Britain is set to transfer the first £5million of the UK’s £10million commitment to the Energy Community’s Ukraine Energy Support Fund to help with repairs and stave off the blackouts which have been affecting millions of Ukrainians.
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Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said: “Russia’s attacks on vital infrastructure show that Putin is resorting to desperate measures. But even in the face of missile attacks and blackouts, the resolve of the Ukrainian people remains unbroken.
“The Government of Ukraine said it needed specialised energy equipment to repair critical national infrastructure, and the UK is delivering on their request.The UK has made the largest donation to date to this Fund. We need all partners to step up their support and show Putin that his attempts to destroy Ukraine will be met with fierce resistance.”
And it is hoped that the assistance will come as fast as possible, given that it appears the attacks are increasing in volume as more and more missiles are added to the mix during strike attempts.
Explaining the situation following the latest onslaught, Mr Kukhta said: “There was a big shutdown. Half of Kyiv went dark…I think 10 million people were left without electricity. It was one of the worst (strikes) so far. This was a massive volley that was largely attack than October 10… It is worse than usual and has done some further damage to the grid.
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“The schedule has not been held up, but it is too early to tell how fast they will be able to make the repairs because this does not happen in a matter of hours. But in general, it is probably not a catastrophe. The country is not totally without power, it has just made the situation worse. Overall it was a pretty nasty move by the Russians but we are still able to cope at the moment.”
And with the extra support on the way, Ukraine will be able to cope even better with the damage caused by Russian missiles.
Ukrainian Minister of Energy Herman Halushchenko said: “Russia is trying to break us by shelling the energy infrastructure to leave Ukrainians on the eve of winter without heat and light. These days the support of international partners is more important than ever.
“UK has been helping Ukraine’s energy sector since the beginning of the Russian invasion. Today it is making a significant contribution to the Energy Support Fund. This will make it possible to purchase the necessary equipment for our energy companies, which is difficult to do as a part of humanitarian aid.”