Updated October 17, 2022 at 11:51 a.m. EDT|Published October 14, 2022 at 1:23 p.m. EDT
Russian forces are targeting critical energy facilities across Ukraine for the second week in a row, damaging the electrical grid in the north and central regions. President Volodymyr Zelensky condemned the Russian attacks and urged Ukrainians to conserve energy as the country faces a difficult winter with compromised infrastructure.
Dozens of Russian missiles and Iranian-made kamikaze drones have been striking power plants and substations, cutting electricity, heat and hot water in many cities and forcing factories in some areas to temporarily close.
The Washington Post identified the offices of Ukraine’s electric transmission company in Kyiv, plus eight energy facilities across six regions that were damaged or destroyed since Oct. 10, using photos and videos shared on social media, along with satellite imagery and fire-tracking data. They provide a sense of the scale of Russia’s attacks, and the impact on major cities from Lviv in the west to Kryvyi Rih in the east.
Power is back on, for now. But Ukrainian officials cautioned that efforts to fully rebuild the energy infrastructure could take months.
“This heating season will be very difficult,” Volodymyr Kudrytskyi, the head of Ukraine’s electric transmission company, Ukrenergo, said during a television interview. He warned that future Russian attacks on the electrical grid were expected and that the utility may need to impose scheduled reductions in service.
Ukraine’s allies are scrambling to provide more sophisticated air defense systems and longer-range weapons to protect the country’s infrastructure.
On Oct. 10, at least three thermal power plants that provide heat, electricity and hot water supply were damaged in the capital, according to a review by The Post.
A video shared on social media shows two Russian cruise missiles strike Kyiv’s cogeneration thermal power plant No. 5. An explosion followed by a large plume of smoke rises from the facility, which provides both electricity and hot water.
Another video shows a large, dark smoke plume rising from Kyiv’s cogeneration thermal power plant No. 6 in the northeast of the city. And a security camera video shows a missile strike on cogeneration thermal power plant No. 3.
The attacks led to temporary rolling blackouts and disruptions to water service across the city, home to an estimated 3 million wartime residents.
In an interview with The Post, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said the threat of future power cuts during winter would exacerbate the challenges faced by city residents struggling to cope with Ukraine’s intense cold.
The onslaught damaged dozens of buildings, killing six and injuring 50, according to Klitschko.
Dash-cam footage verified by The Post captures the moment a Russian cruise missile struck an electric substation in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv on Oct. 10. The critical piece of energy infrastructure is used to distribute electricity powering the region’s factories, hospitals and homes.
An estimated 1.5 million people were left without power. Two substations were destroyed.
“The enemy has completely disabled them,” Maksym Kozytskyy, head of the Lviv regional state administration, told The Post. It will take an estimated eight to 10 months to rebuild.
But without an effective air defense to protect the region’s energy grid against Russian missiles, Kozytskyy fears any efforts to rebuild would be in vain.
“We can restore, and the enemy will strike again,” he said.
Four Russian missiles struck the Burshtynska thermal power plant in the western Ukrainian region of Ivano-Frankivsk. Local media reported that there was a steep drop in electricity production and hot water delivery was temporarily halted.
The Burshtynska thermal power plant is one of several facilities in western Ukraine that exports electricity to Europe, according to Andrian Prokip, a Kyiv-based energy expert with the Kennan Institute.
The damagehaltedelectricity exports in the region, affecting neighboring countries along Ukraine’s western border. This is also significant because Ukraine relies on the revenue from energy exports to shore up the country’s war-ravaged economy, Prokip said.
The attacks on infrastructure had little impact on the battlefield in the east and south, where Ukraine’s military is carrying out a counteroffensive. The purpose of the recent strikes across the country, according to Mason Clark, a senior analyst with the Institute for the Study of War who has tracked the conflict since the start of the invasion, is fear.
“The Kremlin is still dead set on thinking they can intimidate the Ukrainian population into surrendering,” he said.
Missy Ryan, Kostiantyn Khudov and Ellen Francis contributed to this report.