On Monday, Oct. 31, just like the previous three Mondays in October, Ukraine once again came under a massive Russian missile attack. Critical energy facilities were targeted. After the shelling, many Ukrainian cities lost electricity, water, heating, and experienced problems with mobile communication. More than 350,000 apartments were left without power in Kyiv.

Ukraine has been living in such conditions for a month now. Russia is deliberately launching missiles and kamikaze drones at important civil infrastructure facilities. Because of this, there are constant power cuts throughout the country, and people are urged to save power and not use electrical appliances excessively, especially at peak times. At the same time, our Western partners are ready to share stocks of equipment and materials to ensure that Ukraine holds out.


Power outages are still taking place due to damaged equipment of transformer substations and power grids. The biggest problems with electricity are seen on frontline zones, but due to targeted attacks, power outages may occur even in the Eestern regions of Ukraine, says Oleksandr Kharchenko, Director of the Energy Industry Research Center, who gave an extensive interview to Kyiv Post.

You said that “Russia’s strikes on the Ukrainian energy system are a terrorist act planned by Russian power engineers to destroy our energy system”. In that is  the case, is it possible to plan increased point defense of these particular facilities?

You can plan, but there is nowhere to get sufficient air defense equipment from. In addition, no air defense system gives a 100% guarantee of protection. Since we are talking about 100 energy facilities that need to be protected, we are not able to do this yet.

Could there be power outages for a period of one to three days or more?

I think that it will not happen. At least it won’t happen in big cities. There may be exceptions on the frontline zone.


Which electrical appliances consume the most energy?

All those related to heating: electric underfloor heating, electric boilers, electric heaters, laundry machines that heat water for washing, electric kettles, etc.

What is the situation with hospitals? Do they also come under emergency shutdowns?

For the most part, no. We are currently working hard together with our Western partners to provide all hospitals with an autonomous power system and heating source. We buy and receive as aid all generators that are available in the EU, South Korea, Turkey and other countries.  This work applies not only to hospitals, but also to schools and all key state buildings, including buildings of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and law-enforcement agencies.

What assistance can our Western partners provide to protect our energy system, and do they provide a sufficient volume of it? What does membership of the European association for the cooperation of transmission system operators for electricity (ENTSO-E) give us at the present time?

ENTSO-E is the EU energy system. Now we are connected and synchronized with the EU’s energy network. Thanks to this, we have a safety net in the event of emergency.

Evaluation of the sufficiency of support is a subjective category. We are receiving a huge amount of help. Everyone is involved: from the leadership of countries to ordinary citizens – everyone is trying to help Ukraine. There are cases when German specialists take vacations, go to work on weekends so as to bring us the necessary equipment as soon as possible.


Western partners help, both financially and with equipment. The synchronization of the EU energy system with the Ukrainian one played an important role. It was supposed to happen at the end of 2024. And we managed to do it three weeks after Russia’s full-scale invasion, namely on March 16 of this year. If need be, we’ll be able to receive energy from the EU directly. Besides, the export of electricity is only possible with such synchronization. Because we are potentially able to produce twice as much electricity as we need. Thus, the synchronization of our energy systems is also a great help to the EU.

Ukraine is already a fully-fledged member of the European Union in the energy sector.

Is it possible to cover the shortage of electricity caused by Russia’s terrorist attacks through imports?

The problem now is not the lack of electricity production, but the condition of the main power lines. The strikes by Russians on those nodal transformer substations, which are responsible for transferring energy from the point of generation to consumers.


All possible bypass routes are being used to restore power supply to the affected region. But these lines are less powerful, with lower capacity, and they cannot withstand the load.

When an affected region tries to consume more than these cables are able to pass, there’s a blackout. Therefore, importing electricity will not help in this case. That is why we have not yet asked for imports. However, in the event of major attacks on Western Ukraine or in order to reduce the consumption of our own gas and coal, we can resort to electricity imports.

Do we export electricity under such conditions?

No. We suspended the export in mid-October of this year.

It will take months to restore high-tech equipment after the attacks on our energy system have stopped. Are there any modern technical solutions to speed up this process?

Yes, there are such solutions. In particular, if we manage to agree with our partners to share their emergency equipment stocks, because we have already used up ours, then the process of restoring damaged facilities will be speeded up significantly.

Why is it that sometimes the time of power outages does not correspond with that stated in schedules? Is it possible to promptly adjust them in advance so that both Ukrainians and foreigners staying in Ukraine can plan their life and business?

Firstly, we have never drawn up schedules for such situations like this. Secondly, it will not be possible to completely switch to planned outages because of these attacks.


How can you plan something precisely when new attacks occur every day?

The outages deviate from schedules stated because Russia’s attacks continue and the equipment is not in the same condition as it was in peacetime. And when electricity is supplied via bypass routes, which are less powerful, while consumption rises, the dispatcher can see that the equipment at the substation is starting to overheat – and a blackout occurs.

Therefore, it’s impossible to plan an exact outages schedule today. Sometimes there are only minutes to respond to the situation. Everything that can be foreseen is included in the schedules. Each announcement of an air raid siren can become the basis for prompt adjustment of our schedules.

Can such emergency outages affect the price of electricity?

For the population until the end of the war – no. As I understand it, it was decided at the political level not to change the price of gas or electricity until the end of the war.

We are not talking about the quality of services during the war, because we are in survival mode, not comfort mode, and these circumstances can be classified as force majeure.


Will the energy system of Ukraine be able to withstand consumption in winter, as people will start using heaters more?

Yes, it will withstand. We have already passed the peak use of electric heaters in autumn. Due to the inclusion of central heating, which was used by 65% of Ukrainians in peacetime, the consumption of electricity by heaters falls sharply, not increases, immediately, .

Should fines be imposed on members of the business community who continue to keep signs light up at night?

In my opinion, no, because most citizens are aware and turn off the lights. Usually, it is enough for local authorities to talk to businesses so that the latter do not illuminate signs at night.

But if a business can shift its operations, especially energy-intensive ones, that is, various manufacturing processes, to night hours, it would bring  significant savings. For example, a bakery can bake bread only at night, without using electric ovens during the day.

What is the best way to prepare businesses and citizens for emergency or planned (rolling) blackouts? 

The main thing is to provide autonomous power supply. If we are talking about offices, it is worth buying inverters and batteries. Or separate autonomous generators, which, unfortunately, cannot be placed indoors because of exhaust gases. Besides that, the use of generators is very expensive per kWh of electricity produced.

As for residential buildings, they should also think about purchasing generators to provide autonomous power supply, as well as autonomous heating, as an option – using wood or pellets.

To suggest a correction or clarification, write to us here
You can also highlight the text and press Ctrl + Enter