Berliner Tageblatt - Ukrainians urged to save power after plant hit

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Ukrainians urged to save power after plant hit
Ukrainians urged to save power after plant hit / Photo: © AFP

Ukrainians urged to save power after plant hit

Ukraine urged residents to save electricity Thursday after a power plant near the front line was hit by shelling, the first such warning this winter as temperatures plunge below freezing.

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Officials had warned for months Russia was planning to step up strikes on energy infrastructure, after attacks on the power grid last year led to widespread blackouts.

"This afternoon, the enemy attacked one of the thermal power plants in the front-line zone. The equipment was seriously damaged as a result of shelling," the energy ministry said.

It did not say which plant was affected, but said that two of its power units had stopped working, leading to a "temporary shortage of electricity" in the grid.

"The energy ministry appeals to consumers to support power engineers by consuming electricity reasonably and economically, especially during peak load hours," it said.

Lower temperatures, emergency repairs and a lack of solar power have also contributed to shortages, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmygal said in a social media post.

"The government and power industry are now calling on everyone to reduce electricity consumption. Especially from 9 am to 7 pm," he added.

Kyiv has been asking Western countries to bolster its air defence systems to fend off the strikes, which left millions in the dark last year.

It warned in November that it could not produce enough power to meet demand for heating, and has had to rely on neighbouring EU countries for electricity imports.

- 'Scorch the money' -

The warning comes a day after US senators failed to approve billions of dollars' worth of emergency aid for Ukraine and Israel, throwing future support for Kyiv in doubt.

The White House had requested roughly $60 billion extra to help Ukraine keep up pressure on Russia during the winter, but Republicans rejected the measure over an immigration row.

The Kremlin, which has railed against the West's support for Kyiv, welcomed the move.

"It is to be hoped that there remain enough people with sober minds among American congressmen," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Thursday.

He accused the White House of trying to "groom American senators" and "scorch the money of American citizens in the furnace of the Ukrainian war".

The United States is by far Ukraine's biggest ally, and the White House has warned lawmakers a drop in aid could hurt Kyiv's forces on the battlefield.

Despite a Ukrainian counteroffensive that has employed billions of dollars' worth of Western weapons, the front lines in the 21-month conflict have barely shifted in over a year.

President Volodymyr Zelensky told G7 leaders Wednesday that Russia had ramped up pressure on the front lines and that Moscow was counting on Western support to fall next year.

"Russia hopes only for one thing -- that next year the free world's consolidation will collapse," Zelensky said.