Ukraine gets vital energy supplies from Ex-Soviet states

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Ukraine is relying on Eastern European nations to stop it from plunging into darkness on Christmas Day as Russian strikes continue to batter the energy grid in the invaded country, leaving millions without power for hours each day. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s troops have been deliberately targeting Ukraine’s critical energy infrastructure amid its brutal invasion, with lethal drone and missile strikes taking out a huge portion of the network. 

Express.co.uk has previously spoken to locals and experts on the ground in Kyiv who say that grid operators can make repairs, but need to bring parts of the network down as they make the fixes, leaving millions without electricity in blisteringly cold temperatures as they wait for the power to come back online. 

But Ukraine is not doing it alone. The country has reportedly shared a list with European countries of around 10,000 items it needs as soon as possible to help it keep the power on. And  appear to have a key role due to how close they are to Ukraine, while many of their grids have hardware that is compatible.

European nations have sent supplies pouring in the form of transformers,cables, diesel generators and switches to help prevent the nation from plunging into darkness while temperatures begin to drop. 

Regional European bodies and countries such as Azerbaijan, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland and several private firms in the region have all already sent thousands of pieces of equipment to country to help out. 

Lithuania’s energy grid operator has shipped over hundreds of smaller-sized transformers, slashing voltage as it goes from power station to consumer. The Balkan state’s gas grid has also provided Ukraine with spare parts. 

Meanwhile Tauron, Poland’s state-owned utility firm donated 13 miles of wire, 39 transformers and 11 overhead circuit breakers, and 129 insulators to the country, among other vital bits of equipment.

The firm said in a press release: “The power equipment given by Tauron in the second tranche includes 15 km of power cables, 168 poles, 13 drums and nearly 4,000 additional elements for the construction of power lines.”

Tauron’s deputy CEO, Jerzy Topolski, stressed that sending Ukraine the repairs was a matter of urgency. He said: “Regardless of the actions taken to rebuild the country, now, where possible, energy supplies to homes are being restored and damaged power grids rebuilt.”

Pavlo Kukhta, a Ukrainian energy expert and former minister, previously told Express.co.uk that while the most important bit of aid the Ukrainians need right now is air defence systems, equipment that will help operators repair the grid is also vital. 

He said: “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. 

“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.”

Mark Savchuk, a Kyiv local and an expert in the energy sector with a postgraduate degree from the London School of Business and Finance, has told Express.co.uk that the situation in Ukraine could get far worse if sufficient support is not provided. 

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“From time to time, we have to switch off some users from the grid as part of a scheduled power off for four, five or six hours without electricity to balance the grid. When there is shelling, we may go into a complete blackout.”

He later added: “During the winter, it is quite frightening because nothing works at all. It becomes really dangerous during the winter because if water freezes in the pipes, you basically can’t use it until spring – until you have positive centigrade temperatures so that the water will thaw inside the tubes so you can use it again.

“We need several power units of mobile generation of several megawatts. If for example, next week Russia fired the rockets and some hit the target – as some of our anti-air defences are also working – and we went into blackouts, this mobile generation would be able to sustain the critical infrastructure for at least the two or three days required to bring power back online.”

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