Russia accuses Ukraine of launching a drone attack on the Black Sea Fleet in Crimea.
Credit score…Finbarr O’Reilly for The New York Instances

KYIV, Ukraine — The top of Ukraine’s nationwide electrical utility was standing on the road exterior headquarters in central Kyiv two weeks in the past when he heard a low rumble within the sky and noticed a Russian assault drone for the primary time. The ability of the blast moments later was nonetheless evident on Friday within the blown-out home windows and particles that littered the advanced.

“Sadly, they hit exhausting,” Volodymyr Kudrytskyi, the chief govt of Ukrenergo, mentioned in an interview in his workplace.

The drone that hit Ukrenergo’s headquarters was one of dozens of aerial assaults on Oct. 10 and the times after that destroyed 30 p.c of the nation’s energy stations. Within the weeks since, Ukrainian electrical staff have been racing to make repairs, however it’s a monumental problem.

“Nearly every single day, they hit some goal run by Ukrenergo,” he mentioned. Not like a hurricane or different pure catastrophe, the strikes on Oct. 10 weren’t a singular prevalence, however the begin of a sustained marketing campaign that Russian officers have mentioned is supposed to trigger civilian struggling and power Ukraine to undergo the Kremlin’s will.

Dmitri A. Medvedev, a former Russian president and prime minister and present deputy head of Russia’s Safety Council, mentioned in assertion on Friday that Ukraine would regain power stability solely when it acknowledges Russia’s calls for as legit.

Credit score…Brendan Hoffman for The New York Instances

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine spoke to the nation from the darkened streets of Kyiv late Thursday. “We’re not afraid of the darkish,” he mentioned. “The darkest occasions for us should not with out mild, however with out freedom.”

Mr. Zelensky, talking on Friday evening, mentioned that some 4 million Ukrainians had been now residing with restrictions on energy use. Individuals in cities throughout the nation are fighting rolling energy outages, the one approach the nation’s power supplier can forestall a “full blackout.”

Greater than 5,500 electrical upkeep staff are struggling to make repairs as shortly as they will beneath harrowing circumstances, Mr. Kudrytskyi mentioned.

“Think about, you’re an worker sustaining a substation,” Mr. Kudrytskyi mentioned. “You realize it’s a goal.”

The employees by no means know what they are going to discover once they emerge from their bunkers.

Credit score…Finbarr O’Reilly for The New York Instances

An alarm sounds and from the bunker staff can hear the roar of the explosion, he mentioned, the ability of the missile or drone compounded by the discharge of power from {the electrical} gear. An odd odor, which he in comparison with the scent of burned plastic, fills the air when the all clear is lastly given.

Throughout the ability plant, which he mentioned can really feel like its personal small city, fires fueled by oil used within the equipment burn for hours. Alarms blare two or thrice a day. And simply as staff collect what is required for repairs: increase, one other explosion. Mr. Kudrytskyi mentioned that at one plant, the constructing the place the gear for repairs was stored was hit.

“Every thing gone,” he mentioned. “It’s actually exhausting to think about in case you are not inside this horrible film.”

The Russian concentrating on has been so exact that Mr. Kudrytskyi and different Ukrainian power officers mentioned that Moscow have to be assisted by power consultants.

“I can not think about that navy consultants would know what mixture of issues must be hit to trigger essentially the most injury,” he mentioned.

Ukraine has a strong power system, Mr. Kudrytskyi mentioned. Regardless of shedding the ability generated by the nation’s largest nuclear energy plant in Zaporizhzhia and the destruction to the grid in elements of the nation the place preventing is heavy, Ukraine was nonetheless exporting energy a month in the past. The missiles and drone strikes — which Mr. Kudrytskyi mentioned began on Sept. 11 after the Russians had been pushed out of the Kharkiv area — ended that.

If the Russian assaults stopped at present, he mentioned, electrical staff may have energy largely restored in beneath a month. However there isn’t a signal they are going to finish.

5 utility staff have been killed in strikes and dozens extra wounded. Mr. Kudrytskyi mentioned he remained amazed on the dedication of crews working to maintain the lights on.


Oct. 29, 2022

An earlier model of an image caption with this text misstated the date on which technicians had been finishing up repairs in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine. It was two weeks in the past, not final week.

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