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Russia changed tactics on attacking Ukraine's energy system, losses are worse than in 2023

Russia changed tactics on attacking Ukraine's energy system, losses are worse than in 2023 Russia has changed the tactics of attacks on Ukraine's energy system (
Author: Maria Kholina

The Russian Federation has shifted its tactics in attacking Ukraine's energy infrastructure. Losses have escalated beyond those suffered during the massive strikes of 2022-2023, according to the Financial Times.

Instead of widespread shelling, the militants have focused on precision missile strikes on power stations in less defended regions. Some of these stations may not be restored before the next winter.

According to Ukrainian officials, the damages inflicted by Russia are not as extensive but are worse than those in the winters of 2022-2023.

From March 22 to 29, Russia targeted seven thermal power plants and two hydroelectric power stations. However, energy facilities in Kyiv remain untouched by the Russians due to the capital's robust air defense system.

"Ukraine did not provide details on the extent of damage at each power plant, but officials said that some, including those in Kharkiv Oblast near the Russian border, were almost completely destroyed," adds the FT.

Changes in tactics

According to DTEK CEO Maksym Tymchenko, the primary goal now is to restore as much as possible by October. The energy company has lost about 80% of its production due to the strikes, with five thermal power plants forced to shut down. Tymchenko emphasized that there's a plan to restore at least 50% of the damaged energy units in the absence of further attacks. However, without warm weather and energy imports from the European Union (EU), Ukraine could face even more severe outages than last year.

Tymchenko explained that last year, the terrorist country targeted substations and transformers across the nation, but today missiles are aimed at power stations in specific regions to completely destroy them because restoring them in a short time is impossible.

Maria Tsaturian, head of communications at Ukrenergo, noted that Russians are deploying the same number of missiles against five to six energy targets in one region as they did during the mass strikes in 2022-2023. While Ukrenergo can protect smaller substations with defensive structures, large power stations require months or even years to restore.

Another difference from last year's attacks is that Russia has begun using expensive precision ballistic missiles. Andrii Herus, chairman of Ukraine's parliamentary committee on energy and utilities, revealed that during a recent attack on a coal power station, terrorists used ballistic missiles worth $100 million.

According to Ukrainian military intelligence representative Andri Cherniak, the enemy also employs a large number of UAVs as a cheaper means of targeting, such as transformers.

Chernyak said that Ukraine expected attacks at the beginning of winter, but now it's become known that the missiles they used were just recently manufactured, and, according to estimates, the enemy has enough missiles for another one or two attacks.

Herus said that the consequences of the attacks are being mitigated thanks to:

  • Import of electricity from the EU;
  • Domestic solar power stations;
  • Warm weather.

Shelling of energy facilities

In March, Russia resumed shelling of Ukraine's energy sector. Following the massive attacks, the most severe situation is in Kharkiv and the surrounding region, where the Zmiivska TPP and TPP-5 were heavily damaged.

Moreover, during the March 22 attack, which became the largest energy strike during the war, all blocks of the Burshtynska and Ladyzhynska TPPs were damaged. However, the Ministry of Energy emphasizes that there's currently no talk of a nationwide power outage.