No air conditioning for Ukraine officials as power system hit by Russia

FILE PHOTO: A view shows the city without electricity after critical civil infrastructure was hit by Russian missile attacks in Kharkiv

By Olena Harmash

KYIV (Reuters) - Ukraine's government ordered all ministries and regional authorities on Friday to stop using air conditioning and switch off external lighting as Russian bombardments forced long blackouts across the country.

Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said reducing power consumption and saving as much electricity as possible was vital following Russian strikes on the Ukrainian power system.

"Due to the Russian attacks, we have a significant deficit in the energy system. To improve the situation, we restore and expand generation and simultaneously reduce consumption," Shmyhal told a government meeting.

"We approved the government's order to reduce electricity consumption by all state authorities. Ministries, central institutions and regional administrations should stop using air conditioners and external lighting of buildings and nearby areas."

Temperatures in Ukraine are hovering at about 25 degrees Celsius (77°F) and could rise up to 35°C (95°F) in July and August.

Shmyhal said the government recommended similar steps for law enforcement institutions and judicial authorities.

He urged businesses to follow and limit the use of air conditioning and other energy-intensive equipment as much as possible.


Over the past two months, Russia, which began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, has intensified attacks on the Ukrainian energy system, knocking out the bulk of thermal and hydropower generation capacity. Shmyhal said Ukraine has lost about 9 GW of energy-generating capacity since March.

Following the latest attack earlier this month, the sixth since March, the government imposed long electricity cuts across the country. Some consumers in Kyiv said they had no electricity for up to 12 hours a day.

Rolling blackouts are a reminder of the first winter of the war when Russian bombardments targeted the distribution grid, resulting in long hours without electricity and sometimes water and heating during the critical cold months.

Russian forces now focus mostly on generation which is more difficult and takes longer to repair.

Officials and industry are carrying out round-the-clock repairs of the energy system to prepare for the critical cold months, Shmyhal said. Kyiv is also trying to implement reforms to enable a less centralised energy system.

The government has about 500 million euros ($540 million) in aid from its Western partners in a fund set up for equipment purchases, Shmyhal said.

Officials are also in talks with Ukraine's Western neighbours to increase electricity imports to over 2 GW from 1.7 GW and nearly doubled consumer electricity tariffs to fund the repairs.

($1 = 0.9254 euros)

(Reporting by Olena Harmash; Editing by Richard Chang)