Ukraine - To Hurt Russia Means Pain for Ukraine

Ukraine is trying to hurt Russia by hitting its refineries. But the attacks fail to have the desired effects on Russia.  The Russian response though, in form of de-energization attacks on Ukraine, seriously endanger the state.

Today the Russian Federation continued with the de-energization of Ukraine (machine translation): The U.S. Proxy War in ... Laurence M. Vance Buy New $5.95 (as of 10:47 UTC - Details)

As a result of a massive Russian missile attack on the night of April 11 , the Trypillya thermal power plant in the Kiev region was completely destroyed.

Located in the city of Ukrainka, Trypillia thermal power station was commissioned in 1973 and became the most powerful power plant in the Kiev region. It was also the largest supplier of electricity to the Kiev, Cherkasy and Zhytomyr regions.

Since the Zmiyevskaya TPP in the Kharkiv region was completely destroyed on March 22, and Russian troops occupied the Uglegorsk TPP in the Donetsk region on July 25, 2022, Centrenergo has now lost 100% of its generation.

After the complete destruction of the Trypillya TPP, the network recalls the statement of Centrenergo from August 2023 that the facility is equipped with physical protection “at 100%”.

At the same time, it was reported that 70% of the work at the Zmievskaya TPP was completed. This facility was also destroyed by shelling in March of this year.

DTEK, another power supply company in Ukraine, also reported significant losses:

During the missile attack on early 11 April, Russia attacked two thermal power plants owned by DTEK company (Ukraine’s largest private investor in energy), severely damaging the equipment there.

Source: DTEK press service

Details: “After the attack, the power engineers promptly began to eliminate the consequences and restore the equipment. According to early reports, there were no casualties,” the statement said.

Since the start of the full-scale invasion, DTEK’s thermal power plants have been attacked almost 170 times.

In addition to the power supplies Russian attacks also targeted parts of the national electricity distribution network:

Russia has damaged Ukrenergo’s substations and generation facilities in Odesa, Zaporizhzhia, Lviv, Kharkiv and Kyiv Oblasts as a result of a massive missile attack on the night of 10-11 April (Ukrenergo is the electricity transmission system operator in Ukraine).

Europe’s biggest underground storage facility for natural gas in western Ukraine was also attacked (machine translation):

On the night of April 11, Russian cruise missiles of various classes and drones attacked two critical energy infrastructure facilities in the Lviv region.

This was announced by the head of the Lviv OVA Maxim Kozitsky.

“This is a gas distribution infrastructure facility in the Stryi district and an electric substation in the Chervonograd district. Fires started. They were quickly extinguished by firefighters. There were no casualties. All life support systems in the Lviv region are operating normally,” Kozytsky said.

The underground storage facility is partly used by west European companies. But without the pumping and distribution system at the surface the underground facility, and anything stored in it, becomes useless.

Russia has not attacked any of the nuclear power plants in Ukraine. They, and limited electricity imports from western Europe, can still provide a minimum of basic load electricity to the country. But any peaks in consumption, which are usually buffered by the now destroyed thermal and hydroelectric power plants, will put the system under stress. Significant blackouts will thus become unavoidable.

Aleksey Arestovich, a former advisor to the president of Ukraine, is not happy about this (machine translation):

The Russians consistently knock out our generation – hydroelectric and thermal power plants.

More than UAH 50 billion was allocated to protect the stations.

This is the same amount as according to the NBU, Ukrainians collected defense donations in two years.

I throw up questions that should be asked to our leaders.:

    • how and what was the money spent?
    • why haven’t alternative generation circuits been created in the last two years – gas-fired power plants haven’t been purchased?
    • why didn’t you listen to the experts for two years, who predicted what was happening back in May 2022 and offered to do business for two years, and not to fuck around and publish?

Energy is the foundation of the country’s life. If there is no energy, there is nothing.

We are still holding on, thanks to the energy bridge with the EU and nuclear power plants, but the prospect that some regions will sit without electricity for weeks (and therefore without production and storage of food-in the summer!) getting closer.

Neither Arestovich nor other commentators in Ukraine acknowledge that the Russian campaign to de-energize the country is a direct consequence of Ukrainian attacks on infrastructure in Russia.

The daily reports by the Russian Ministry of Defense have emphasized this several times:

In response to the Kiev regime’s attempts to damage Russian oil and gas and energy facilities, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation launched a massive strike on Ukrainian fuel and energy facilities with long-range precision weapons, air-and sea-based weapons, as well as unmanned aerial vehicles. The strike goals have been achieved. All objects are hit.

As a result, the work of Ukrainian military industry enterprises was disrupted, the transfer of reserves to combat areas was disrupted, and fuel supply to units and military units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine was hampered.

Ukraine has, over several weeks, used drones to attack oil refineries deep within Russia. It did not stop even after it received the first Russian responses in form of renewed strikes on its energy facilities.

The U.S. has said that it does not like the Ukrainian strikes on Russian oil facilities because they could lead to an increase in global gasoline prices which could lower president Biden’s chance for a re-election.

Only yesterday U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin again criticized such attacks:

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Ukraine’s recent drone strikes on Russian oil refineries have a “knock-on effect” that could affect the global energy situation and suggested Kyiv focus on “tactical and operational targets” instead.

“Those attacks could have a knock-on effect in terms of the global energy situation. Ukraine is better served in going after tactical and operational targets that can directly influence the current fight,” Austin told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, April 9, Bloomberg reported.

Austin’s comments are the latest confirmation of Washington’s position on Ukrainian drone strikes on Russian refineries, which first started circulating following a Financial Times (FT) article – citing unnamed officials – that said Washington had relayed wishes to Ukraine’s intelligence units to stop hitting Russian oil refineries for fear of rising crude prices and retaliation.

However, unable to provide further money and weapons to Ukraine, the Biden administration has lost much of its leverage over Ukraine.

It has also failed to put its ducks in a row. Remarkably the General Secretary of NATO, usually a spokesperson for U.S. policy, takes a position that is in opposite to what the U.S. Secretary of Defense says:

Oil refineries in Russian territory are “legitimate” targets for Ukrainian drone strikes, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg during a joint press briefing with Finnish President Alexander Stubb on April 10.

Stoltenberg reiterated that Ukraine has the right to defend itself by military means.

“Ukraine has the right to strike legitimate military targets outside the territory of their country to defend itself,” the secretary said.

While the Economist lauds the Ukrainian attacks it notes that the intended consequences like a gasoline shortage in Russia, are unlikely to happen:

The government has kept a lid on prices by banning petrol exports for six months from March 1st, and striking a deal with Belarus, its client state. Russia imported 3,000 tonnes of fuel from Belarus in the first half of March, up from zero in January. Fearing that may not be enough, officials have also asked neighbouring Kazakhstan to set aside a third of its reserves, equivalent to 100,000 tonnes, should Russia need them, according to Reuters.

Nor will Russia lose any income: The Costs of War: Amer... Best Price: $1.99 Buy New $13.46 (as of 08:00 UTC - Details)

The government will even save some cash by paying out fewer per-barrel subsidies to refineries. Russia’s biggest money-earners are resource taxes. And because these are levied as royalties at the well-head, the government is indifferent between oil exported as crude or as refined fuel, says Mr Vakulenko. As long as Russia is able to export crude, it can collect royalties.

To sum up:

  • The Ukrainian attacks on Russian refineries do not have the desired secondary effects on Russia. Fuel is available at cheap prices and resource based state income continues to be high.
  • Ukraine’s attacks on Russia are the purported reason given by Russia for the de-energization of Ukraine.
  • NATO and the U.S. defense establishment do not have a consistent position.
  • Global fuel prices are rising and are hurting Biden’s campaign efforts.
  • Ukraine continues to be de-energized.

One might think that the negative effects from the above are significant enough to lead to a change in policies.

How come I do not expect to see any?

Reprinted with permission from Moon of Alabama.