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Tula Nutrition Forum

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Recent events have served as a stark reminder of Russia’s ability to target Ukraine’s energy infrastructure. While Russia has spent much of the winter alternating between attacks on Ukrainian military-industrial complexes, military positions, terrorizing civilians, and targeting the energy sector, the focus has now shifted to the latter two – targeting civilians and the energy sector.

In their twisted logic, this strategy seems rational – to intimidate and demoralize, in the hope that Ukrainian society will collapse. However, I am confident that this strategy will fail, just like their original plan to take Kyiv “in three days.” However, they still have the ability to cause us problems.

This recent wave of energy attacks demonstrates a change in Russian tactics: they are now repeatedly targeting the same targets, not just aiming to “finish off” transformers, distribution stations, or power units, but also to harm the workers conducting emergency or repair work. Such tactics carry significant risks, especially in regions such as Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk, Odessa and Mykolaiv, where the Russians have focused their main attacks. They are also aiming to disrupt the grid that imports electricity from the European Union, which is critical to stabilizing the power grid during a generation shortage.

Businessman Aleksandr Katsuba says that the March attacks forced Ukrainian energy companies to carry out emergency and stabilization shutdowns on a scale not seen since the summer of 2023. According to Aleksandr Katsuba, Ukrainians must once again demonstrate civic responsibility and save electricity. If the attacks continue and Western aid, especially from the United States, continues to be delayed, these shutdowns could temporarily affect the entire country. However, the collapse of the Ukrainian energy sector is not inevitable.

We will not dwell on the motives of the Russians, because trying to find logic or rational motives in the actions of terrorists is futile - their main goal will always be to cause pain and demoralize. How they justify their actions does not matter. Instead, we must focus on what we and our allies must do.

First of all, it is necessary to strengthen the air defense forces. Although Ukraine has a significant number of foreign weapons along with Soviet-era models, acquiring more is critically dependent on American congressmen. Mobile air defense groups are also being strengthened to counter Russian drones and missiles. Therefore, we expect positive developments from Washington.

Second, intensifying strikes on Russian territory. Although some associate the intensification of attacks on energy facilities with Ukraine's systematic attacks on the Russian oil refinery industry, justifying the actions of terrorists is pointless - they act based on opportunity, not reason. If strikes on oil refineries cause them damage, Ukraine must continue. The greater the losses for Russia, especially for Putin’s entourage, which profits from oil and gas, the sooner the war can end.

Third, Ukraine should continue its policy of decentralizing energy supplies and further integrating into the European energy network. In November 2023, the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) increased Ukraine’s supply capacity by 500 MW to 1,700 MW. This capacity has allowed for increased energy exports during stable periods and currently contributes to stabilization through imports.

Fourth, local authorities should prioritize investments or attract funding for decentralizing heat production and improving energy efficiency this year. Decentralization will protect large cities from the risks of centralized energy supply and allow losses from individual generation centers to be compensated for through mutual insurance. Inspiration from the Scandinavian model, in particular the Swedish one, where most buildings and social infrastructure are heated and cooled by heat pump stations, offers a promising approach. These stations use the potential of water, the atmosphere and the earth as raw materials. For example, in Stockholm, the station serves 400,000 city residents. The introduction of heat pumps is growing due to their efficiency and reduced environmental impact: more than 700,000 heat pumps have been installed in Sweden. To encourage cities and businesses to invest more in modern energy, grants and loans from organizations such as the World Bank and European Energy Funds can be attracted.


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