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Zelenskyy tells EU Russia has almost entirely destroyed Ukraine’s thermal power capacity, asks for air defense help

President Zelenskyy warned EU leaders that Russia could target nuclear facilities after nearly destroying Ukraine’s thermal power generation, calling for urgent Western support with air defenses.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressing the EU Council on 17 April 2024. Photo:
Zelenskyy tells EU Russia has almost entirely destroyed Ukraine’s thermal power capacity, asks for air defense help

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy cautioned that following aerial attacks on thermal power facilities, Russia might next target nuclear station infrastructure. He shared these concerns via video link during a special session of the European Council on 17 April, noting that Russia has already devastated much of Ukraine’s thermal power generation.

Since March 2024, Russia has launched three massive strikes on Ukraine’s energy system, disabling up to 7 GW of power generation capacity. These strikes have destroyed several facilities, including the Dnipro Hydroelectric Plant in Zaporizhzhia, Kharkiv’s Thermoelectric Power Plant-5, Zmiivska and Trypilska Thermoelectric Stations of Centrenergo, as well as Burshtynska and Ladyzhynska Thermoelectric Stations of DTEK.

Zelenskyy emphasized the severity of the situation:

“Russia has already destroyed almost all of our thermal power generation,” he said, adding that the Russian “terrorist attacks” have also targeted Ukrainian dams, hydroelectric facilities, and gas infrastructure.

He continued:

We also see that Russia continues its barbaric tampering with the safety of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant and does not shy away from nuclear blackmail. We cannot rule out threats to the infrastructure of our other nuclear stations and distribution networks under Russian terror.”

Earlier, Ukraine’s Armed Forces General Staff reported that Russian forces at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, after occupying it, are planning another false-flag attack to falsely implicate Ukraine once more.

Addressing the European Council, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy expressed hope that Western partners will provide Ukraine with additional air defense systems. He emphasized the urgent need for specific systems such as Patriot, IRIS-T, SAMP/T, and NASAMS, arguing that their deployment is crucial to counter Putin’s reliance on terrorist tactics and to enhance security in Europe.

Earlier, in response to Russian attacks on the energy grid, Ukrainian Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko urged Ukrainians to stock up on generators and power banks, preparing for various scenarios in the upcoming spring and summer, while Ukraine’s President and Foreign Minister intensified their appeals to Western partners for additional air defense systems.

Russia targets Ukraine’s energy grid

While Russia bombed Ukraine’s power grid extensively in the winter of 2022-2023, causing widespread distress amid the cold, it conducted relatively fewer attacks during this year’s winter season.

Russia’s Shahed explosive drone attacks became daily last summer. Missile attacks were never massive in scale until the New Year, when they escalated to weekly occurrences. In March, Russia further increased massive missile assaults to every few days to a week, primarily targeting Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, including power substations and power-generating facilities.

From 18 to 24 March alone, Russia launched about 190 missiles, 140 Shahed drones, primarily targeting Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, and 700 guided bombs. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy highlighted this in his address, emphasizing Russia’s consistent terror attacks throughout more than two years of the all-out Russo-Ukrainian war.

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