Wednesday, 23 November 2022 — Moon of Alabama
Earlier today the Russian military shut down the Ukrainian electricity network.
Previous attacks had limited the distribution capacity to some 50% of demand. Controlled blackouts over several hours per day allowed to give some electricity for a few hours to most parts of the country. The attack today created a much larger problem. Not only were distribution networks attacked but also so the elements that connect Ukraine’s electricity production facilities to the distribution network. All four nuclear power stations of Ukraine with their 15 reactors are now in shutdown mode.
Kiev along with most other cities of Ukraine no longer has electricity.
Moldavia is likewise effected as it received some 20% of its electricity from Ukraine. When the Ukrainian network shut down the only local thermal power plant shut down too. It is likely that it can be switched on again but that can be a complicate process.
Limited electricity imports from the European system into Ukraine may still be possible but that electricity would only be available in Ukraine’s western cities.
Before today’s attack the Washington Post reported of the difficulties in repairing the network. As we ad explained before the Russian attacks are hitting the transformers that connect the national 330 kilovolt backbone network. These are hard to replace:
As the scope of damage to Ukraine’s energy systems has come into focus in recent days, Ukrainian and Western officials have begun sounding the alarm but are also realizing they have limited recourse. Ukraine’s Soviet-era power system cannot be fixed quickly or easily. In some of the worst-hit cities, there is little officials can do other than to urge residents to flee — raising the risk of economic collapse in Ukraine and a spillover refugee crisis in neighboring European countries.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said that about half of the country’s energy infrastructure was “out of order” following the bombardment.
For weeks, Russian missiles have targeted key components of Ukraine’s electrical transmission system, knocking out vital transformers without which it is impossible to supply power to households, businesses, government offices, schools, hospitals and other critical facilities.
During a briefing for reporters on Tuesday, Volodymyr Kudrytskyi, the head of Ukrenergo, the state-run power grid operator, called the damage to the power system “colossal.”
Russians, he said, were mainly targeting substations, nodes on the electrical grid where the current is redirected from power stations. The main components of these substations are autotransformers — “high-tech and high-cost equipment” that is difficult to replace.
A list of “urgent needs” from DTEK, the country’s largest private energy company, circulating in Washington, lists dozens of transformers along with circuit breakers, bushings and transformer oil.
But it is the autotransformers — the “heart” of the substations, in the words of Kudrytskyi — that are at the top of the Ukrainians’ list of needs and the key to keeping the country’s electrical grid functioning.
The Ukrainians have tried to buy up every autotransformer they can find, going as far as South Korea to purchase them, but they still need to place orders for more to be built.
“We try to collect everything around the world that they have now, and order more,” said Olena Zerkal, an adviser to Ukraine’s Energy Ministry.
Any attempts to repair the network are useless as long as Russia continues to attack it.
To stop these attacks requires a political solution. Ukraine will have to give up and find some agreement with Russia.
Russia also attacked some of the natural gas sources Ukraine has:
Russia last week broadened its targets. Oleksiy Chernyshov, chief executive of Ukraine’s state energy company Naftogaz, said in an interview that a “massive rocket attack” hit 10 gas production facilities in the Kharkiv and Poltava regions, including Shebelinka, one the largest production and drilling areas.
“Of course, we will do our best now to recover, but this will take time and resources and material,” Chernyshov said. “Time is of the essence,” he added. “Because winter is now.”
The targeting of the gas supply was a critical development, said Victoria Voytsitska, a former member of parliament now working with civil society groups on getting Ukraine the equipment it needs. If Moscow takes out the gas system, she said, cities and villages across the country could become “uninhabitable.”
Gazprom says that it has noticed some of the gas intended for Moldova under a contract with the local gas firm is being diverted by Ukraine. If the imbalance in gas transit continues, Gazprom will start reducing gas flows via Ukraine on the morning of November 28, the Russian gas giant said today, as carried by Russian news agency TASS.
Without electricity there is no water flowing in the water distribution systems of the cities. Without water toilets can not be used. Public hygiene will suffer. The internet in Ukraine is also down.
A country that is becoming ‘uninhabitable’ has little chance to wage and win a war. When there is no transport, no electricity, no heat and no communication everything becomes incredibly difficult.
The refugee stream all this will cause will increase pressure on Europe to push Ukraine into negotiating for peace with Russia. Tough conditions will be applied but there is no other way out of this mess.
Throughout the last weeks Ukrainian attacks on the frontline have been remarkably ineffective. There is no longer any coordination of larger formations. The units attacking now are mostly only company size or even smaller. A 12 minute video that showed drone footage of such an attack was published yesterday:
What’s the media hiding? @narrative_hole – 11:20 UTC · Nov 23, 2022
I can’t believe I missed this one today, the editing is unbelievable.
A 12 minute clip of Ukrainians conducting what was sadly a suicide attack on Russian trenches … just to be pummeled by Su-25’s, infantry, heavy mortars, a tank, MLRS and finished with an Su-34 bombing run.
Sitting on top of an armored infantry vehicle some 20 Ukrainian soldiers drive up to a fortified area and enter the first empty row of trenches. From there they try to attack the second row of trenches that is held by a handful of Russian soldiers.
The Ukrainian troops seem to be fairly well equipped with helmets and armor vests. But they have no support.
The Russian infantry fights back. It is supported by well targeted mortar fire, artillery, tank and air attacks. The Russians have drones up in the air that can see the whole scene. The Ukrainian units have nothing but their rifles and a few hand grenades. After the attacking platoon is destroyed the Russian artillery attacks and destroys the industrial area from where they had been coming. The whole operation ends up as a complete disaster. All Ukrainian troops involved seem to be dead. The Russian side seems to have had no or only few casualties.
What’s the media hiding? @narrative_hole – 1:04 AM · Nov 23, 2022
This battle took place some time ago, but it’s still incredible to watch now that they made the concise edit.
If we consider that such attacks happen by the dozens every week, the Russian MoD estimates of Ukrainian daily losses aren’t that farfetched.
There are several such attacks per day and only very few are successful.
From today’s clobber list:
In Donetsk direction, units of Russian army continued their intense operation. More than 60 Ukrainian servicemen and five armoured fighting vehicles have been eliminated.
In South Donetsk direction, artillery fire and decisive actions by Russian troops have repulsed an attack by the AFU with up to a company’s tactical group forces towards Pavlovka.
In addition, as a result of a pre-emptive fire attack, enemy reserves advancing from Ugledar have been destroyed.
A sabotage and reconnaissance group of the AFU has been destroyed near Novodarovka (Zaporozhye region).
The enemy’s losses amounted to more than 40 Ukrainian servicemen killed and wounded, three armoured vehicles, a MT-LB and four pick-up trucks.
In Kupyansk direction, an attempt to launch an attack by an AFU mechanised infantry company near Novosyolovskoye (Lugansk People’s Republic) has been thwarted by artillery fire and heavy flamethrower systems.
As a result of Russian artillery fire more than 30 Ukrainian servicemen, two motor vehicles and one mortar have been destroyed.
In Krasniy Liman direction, an attempt to move the AFU company tactical group to attack the Chervonopopvka (Lugansk People’s Republic) has been disrupted by pre-emptive fire.
Up to 20 Ukrainian servicemen, three mortar crews and two motor vehicles have been eliminated.
Operational-Tactical and Army Aviation, Missile Troops and Artillery have neutralised the AFU 128th Mountain Assault Brigade’s command post deployed near Volnyansk (Zaporozhye region), as well as 72 artillery units at their firing positions, manpower and hardware in 144 areas.
That are at least 150 dead Ukrainian soldiers just there.
I do not understand hwy the Ukrainian command is still ordering such senseless attacks. Militarily it should have long gone into defensive mode. It would save Ukrainian lives and would make it more costly for the Russians to attack.
The European parliament, which has no serious legislative function, voted today for a non-binding resolution that declared Russia to be a ‘state sponsor of terrorism’. Some Russian’s found that outrageous. A few hours later the Parliament was hit by a ‘sophisticated’ cyber attack:
The European Parliament website was affected by a hacking attack, officials said on Wednesday.
Parliament President Roberta Metsola said it was a “sophisticated attack” and that a pro-Kremlin group had claimed responsibility.
She noted that the attack followed the EU lawmakers’ vote to name Russia a “state sponsor” of terrorism over its war in Ukraine.
“My response is: Slava Ukraini (Glory to Ukraine),” Metsola said.
That irrelevant Maltese conservative still has a lot to learn.