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4 Mar, 2024 08:42

Ukraine may ‘lose energy war’ – power producer to FT

More Western air defenses are needed to protect the company property of DTEK, according to the CEO
Ukraine may ‘lose energy war’ – power producer to FT

Ukraine may lose the “energy war” against Russia due to a shortage of air defenses, the CEO of an energy giant owned by one of the country’s oligarchs has told the Financial Times.

The company – DTEK – belongs to the richest man in Ukraine, Rinat Akhmetov. It is suffering from Russian missile and drone attacks and has had problems repairing damage, Maksim Timchenko told the British newspaper. He urged Western donors to give Kiev more weapons systems to protect the company’s property.

”After two years of this fighting, we cannot afford to lose this energy war,” he said. “And there is a risk that we can start losing just because what was promised was not delivered.”

In addition to the practical consequences of the increasingly successful Russian strikes, “it just harms our confidence a lot,” Timchenko added.

Russian forces began targeting Ukraine’s energy infrastructure in retaliation for the October 2022 bomb attack on the Crimean Bridge, which Moscow blamed on Kiev’s military intelligence. The “terrorist attack” killed five civilians, including the unsuspecting driver of the truck that carried the explosive cargo, and forced a partial shut-down of the key bridge.

The Russian military says it conducts attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure to degrade the country’s military capabilities.

Timchenko claimed that protecting the assets of the company he runs may be as important as the fighting on the front line, because for Ukraine to win, the economy must survive. Electricity is “equally important during the summer and winter,” he added.

Unlike in the winter, serious blackouts during the summer in Ukraine do not pose an immediate threat to civilians, but force industries to pause operations. The Ukrainian leadership has said that domestic military production is a key objective, as supplies of Western weapons face delays and uncertainty of funding.