May 19, 2024

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Ukraine War: A major power station near Kiev is destroyed by Russian strikes

Ukraine War: A major power station near Kiev is destroyed by Russian strikes
  • By Sarah Rainsford in Kharkiv and Laura Josey
  • BBC News

Video explanation, Watch: Trebilia Power Station was the largest electricity provider to three regions

A major power plant near Kiev was completely destroyed in Russian strikes early Thursday, energy company Centernergo said.

The Trebylia power plant is the largest electricity provider in three regions, including Kiev, officials said.

“The scale of the devastation is terrifying,” said Centernergo President Andre Hota.

Russia has long been deliberately and systematically targeting Ukraine's energy system.

Hota told the BBC that the raids that took place on Thursday morning destroyed “transformers, turbines and generators. They were 100% destroyed.”

A fire broke out in the turbine shop of the Trebylia plant – located 50 kilometers (31 miles) south of Kiev – following a large-scale air attack on Thursday.

The head of Centernergo said that the factory was targeted by several missiles. He said that the employees on duty were able to escape because they ran for cover as soon as the first drone fell.

He urged residents to close their windows, charge all their devices and store water.

More than 80 missiles and drones targeted sites across Ukraine in the early hours of Thursday morning. Many of them targeted energy infrastructure, and nearly a third of them managed to penetrate Ukrainian air defenses.

Hours later, Centrenergo confirmed that its factory in Trebelia was out of use. Hota said his company's entire production capacity in Ukraine has now been destroyed.

It was one of the largest providers of electricity and heat in Ukraine. It has operated two more power plants – one in the Kharkiv region that was devastated in late March, and one in the Donetsk region that Russia seized in 2022.

The Kharkiv and Trebelja plants generated about 8% of the country's electricity, according to Mr. Hota. The Trebeliya thermal plant supplied energy to the three central regions of Zhytomir, Cherkasy and Kiev.

It is believed that the destruction of the Trebelia station will not be a critical issue for Ukraine in the summer, although by winter it will become a “big problem.”

While the station can be rebuilt with the help of spare parts from Europe, he says it will remain vulnerable to attack without Ukraine's allies providing strong air defences.

“We can fix. We can do the impossible. But we need to be protected.”

At least two more thermal power plants suffered “serious damage” overnight in western Ukraine, putting further pressure on electricity supplies across the country.

DTEK Energy's production capacity has already fallen to 20% after repeated attacks in March.

The company told the BBC that the recent missile and drone strike on “purely civilian power stations” would make the task of providing vital energy to the grid more difficult.

“With one attack after another, Russia is trying to strangle Ukraine’s energy system and with it our hard-earned freedom,” DTEK said.

The Kharkiv region in the northeast was hit hard again after its power plants suffered severe damage in late March.

The city's mayor described the situation as “very difficult” and announced more power outages to homes and businesses.

The Kharkiv metro stopped for a while on Thursday to save energy. It has since resumed, but the power supply goes up and down, so the trains run very intermittently.

President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that Russia was “obliged to respond” to attacks on Ukrainian energy sites following Kiev's attacks on Russian targets, even though this was a war he launched without reason two years ago.

He said, “Unfortunately, we detected a series of strikes on our energy sites recently and were forced to respond.”

“I want to stress that, even for humanitarian reasons, we did not carry out any raids in the winter. What I mean is that we did not want to leave social institutions without electricity – hospitals and the like. But after a series of attacks in relation to our energy facilities, we had to respond.” .

He added that the “energy strikes” were part of Russia's goal of “disarming” Ukraine – one of its stated goals when the invasion began in February 2022.

In a separate development, four people were killed and several others were injured in the southern city of Mykolaiv in a rare series of daytime strikes on Thursday.

The Ukrainian Southern Military Command said on Telegram that private homes, cars and industrial facilities were damaged in the “malicious” attack.

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