Ukraine has largely weathered Russia’s power-grid attacks — but is bracing for more



Kyiv region, Ukraine —

In the sharp winds raging on the banks of the Dnipro River, a burly Ukrainian Army Major (aptly known by his military call sign “Bison”) is shunned by the cold and boredom from the Russians as air defense crews enter. I laughed off the idea of ​​having a hard time defending myself. drones and rockets.
About 25 miles from the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, a 35-year-old police officer who oversees a battery of Stinger missiles mounted in vehicles said, “Waiting 24 hours in the snow is like 1 under fire. It’s always better than waiting.
The Ukrainian military has focused on protecting civilian infrastructure in densely populated urban areas, as the southern and eastern fronts of the war are largely frozen in winter, befitting cold weather.
Since October, intensifying Russian airstrikes on Kiev and other cities in Ukraine have destroyed apartment buildings, hospitals, bus stations and substations across the country, and severely disrupted power supplies in Kiev and elsewhere.
But Bison and his seven air defense teams he commands are optimistic. Almost a year into the fighting, Russia’s attempts to destroy the country’s power grid and deprive Ukrainians of light and heat during the dark winter months seem largely unsuccessful.


A Ukrainian air defense team demonstrated on Tuesday at an unused position on the outskirts of Kiev.
(Pete Keyhart/For The Times)

In Kiev, a city of three million people, air raid sirens go off multiple times daily as missile-equipped fighter jets take off from Russian and Belarusian bases. During President Biden’s surprise visit on Monday, an alert was issued as he and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky walked in front of the landmark downtown monastery.
Voiced by ‘Star Wars’ actor Mark Hamill, the popular mobile app goes all clear when the alarm is cleared, and Hamill says, ‘May the Force be with you,’ voiced by Luke Skywalker. ‘ and tone it down.

In winter, all of Kiev was immersed in darkness, but now the lights have returned. Cafes and coffee houses are warm and welcoming places. Some of the previously darkened monuments will be lit up again in the cooler skies, and street lamps will be turned on again to save electricity.
Long-distance workers who spent months haunting subway stations and flocking to “invincibility points” offering hot tea and chargers these days have little recourse to finding another job in lighting and electricity. is not.
“They were coming every day. They were queuing up to sit on the sofa.”                                                                                                                                                                         During the worst of the winter blackouts, people show up at stores with their work laptops and other equipment, plop themselves into comfy chairs in furniture showrooms, plug in power strips, and let restless kids know what they’re doing. I managed the furniture department.
However, as missile attacks became less frequent and repair teams, often working around the clock, were able to counter much of the destruction caused by missiles and drones, remote work during wartime became less effective in January. The injection of foreign-donated generators and transformers has also helped, with the government allowing two previously closed nuclear power plants to be relocated to the national grid to reduce load. We announced that we are giving feedback.
As winter set in, the threat of darkness in Ukraine seemed terrifying. Self-exploding drones deal a symbolic blow as Russia launches the first of at least her 14 devastating waves of airstrikes in October, hitting the headquarters of state energy company Uklenergo. Did. Her boss, Volodymyr Kudritsky, saw the explosion destroy the top two floors of the building.
Kiev mayor Vitali Klitschko has even warned that he may have to evacuate the capital if the city’s power grid collapses and water and sewerage systems are disrupted.


Power plant workers arrive to repair damage following a Russian attack in central Ukraine.
(Evgeny Maroretka/Associated Press)

Today, for the most part, only the towns and villages closest to the front line suffer from persistent power shortages. Even in such places, concerned residents are happy to point out that a relatively mild winter is almost over and successful.
But danger still awaits. The capital and the air defense personnel guarding it are bracing for the possibility of a new attack coinciding with Friday’s anniversary of the start of the invasion – especially in eastern Ukraine, where Russia’s offensive attempts appear to have stalled.
Western military analysts say Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to want important battlefield victories, such as the capture of the town of Bakhmut, to be trumpeted ahead of the anniversary. Despite a frightening number of casualties, this did not happen as waves of Russian troops, including prisoners of war recruited by Wagner’s mercenary group, were mowed down in attacks on Ukrainian positions. Ukrainian forces also suffered heavy casualties in the Battle of Bakhmut.
Outside Kiev’s air defense perimeter, there is a high rate of Russian missiles and drones coming in, but Stinger operators are well aware that even a few that get through the net can have bloody and devastating consequences. I am aware of
US military aid, including a new $500 million military package announced by Biden this week, includes a large share for air defense. Military analysts trust Ukraine with its agile strategy of dispersing such defenses and maintaining mobility.
When freezing sleet begins to fall Stinger dual launches as the Russian attack is underway His two missiles in his vehicle I demonstrated the forest bastion.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Russia routinely launches dozens of missiles and drones almost simultaneously to overwhelm Ukraine’s defenses. His two crew members from the Ukrainian 1129th Anti-Aircraft Missile Regiment mounted the Stinger on the vehicle’s tripod and demonstrated their efforts to skillfully adjust the telescopic sight.
During the actual attack, this adrenaline-pumping interlude feels both long and short.
“Actually, I’m not scared anymore,” said the 25-year-old crew member “gunner”, whose name is kept secret according to Ukrainian military policy. “It was difficult at first”

When asked what he meant by missing the mark, he sighed deeply.On the other hand, the success felt like a personal victory, and he was thinking of his friends and family who were being attacked in Kiev at this very moment. It makes me think.
“If I hit the target, I feel like I saved someone’s life,” he said. “I will protect my country.”



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