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Russia has attacked Ukraine's energy infrastructure sixty times in the past few weeks, as temperatures fall as winter approaches, boosting energy consumption, Kiev officials said on Tuesday.
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Ukraine fears that Russia may have already launched a series of attacks on the country's power grid as the second winter of war approaches. Last winter, thousands of Russian drones and missiles targeted Ukraine's energy sector, causing massive blackouts.
Ukraine's Energy Minister Herman Khaluschenko, who is visiting the United States, said his country's government had discussed with partners how to survive the critical cold months. The West began supplying Kiev with air defense systems to eliminate the threat.
"In recent weeks, our energy infrastructure facilities have been attacked sixty times with a different weapons arsenal," Khaluschenko said. "After each new attack, the need for energy equipment increases, and therefore the help of partners is of particular importance for Ukraine's energy sector," he added.
Ukraine has better air defenses this winter, but the energy system is more vulnerable because there are still damage from attacks on it last winter. Ukraine's military intelligence says Russia stockpiled hundreds of missiles for a winter air campaign.
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A statement from the Ukrainian government said a thermal power plant in the east of the country came under fire last night. Electricity distribution networks in the eastern Donetsk region, the northeastern Kharkiv region and the southern Kherson region were also damaged by Russian shelling, the report said.
The Ministry of Energy of Ukraine announced that the distribution networks for natural gas in the Dnipropetrovsk region were also damaged. The attacks did not lead to mass blackouts across the country, but government officials fear attacks will increase in view of the coming winter.
Ukraine's national electricity company Ukrenergo said consumption continued to rise this week with a temperature drop. A 2.5 degree drop in temperature led to a 1.5 percent increase in consumption, she said.
So far this fall, Ukraine has enjoyed unusually warm weather for the season, with temperatures still hovering around 10 degrees. Ukrenergo said a total of 431 settlements in different areas were without electricity due to the fighting there.
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