Europe scrambles to help Ukraine keep the heat and lights on amid Russian attacks

Silhouettes of people in Kyiv's city center amid a power outage
People walk in the center of the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, parts of which lost power after a Russian rocket attack.
(Evgeniy Maloletka / Associated Press)

European officials are scrambling to help Ukraine stay warm and keep functioning through the winter months ahead, pledging Friday to send more support that will mitigate the Russian military’s efforts to turn off the heat and lights.

Nine months after Russia invaded its neighbor, the Kremlin’s forces have zeroed in on Ukraine’s power grid and other critical civilian infrastructure in a bid to tighten the screws on Kyiv. Officials estimate that around 50% of Ukraine’s energy facilities have been damaged in the recent strikes.

France is sending 100 high-powered generators to Ukraine to help people get through the coming months, French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said Friday.


She said Russia was “weaponizing” winter and plunging Ukraine’s civilian population into hardship.

British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, arriving Friday in Kyiv on an unannounced visit, said a prom-ised air defense package, which Britain valued at roughly $60 million, would help Ukraine defend itself against Russia’s bombard- ments.

“Words are not enough. Words won’t keep the lights on this winter. Words won’t defend against Russian missiles,” Cleverly said on Twitter about the military aid.

The United States is sending an additional $400 million in ammunition and generators to Ukraine, the White House announced Wednesday.

Nov. 23, 2022

The package includes radar and other technology to counter the exploding drones that Russia has used against Ukrainian targets, especially the power grid. It comes on top of a delivery to Ukraine of more than 1,000 surface-to-air missiles that Britain announced this month.

“As winter sets in, Russia is continuing to try and break Ukrainian resolve through its brutal attacks on civilians, hospitals and energy infrastructure,” Cleverly said.


Russian officials have claimed that they are hitting legitimate targets. But the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on Friday expressed his shock at the depth of civilian suffering caused by the assaults amid broader allegations of abuses.

“Millions are being plunged into extreme hardship and appalling conditions of life by these strikes,” Volker Turk said in a statement Friday. “Taken as a whole, this raises serious problems under international humanitarian law, which requires a concrete and direct military advantage for each object attacked.”

Ukraine sees Crimea, the strategic peninsula illegally annexed by Russia nearly nine years ago, as potentially within its grasp.

Nov. 22, 2022

The U.N. humanitarian office also voiced its concerns.

“Ukraine is turning increasingly cold without power, without steady water supply and without heating,” Jens Laerke, a spokesman for the office, said Friday.

He said the global body and its partners were sending hundreds of generators to Ukraine to help keep people warm and maintain essential services, such as healthcare. The World Health Organization said it was sending generators to hospitals.

Cleverly’s visit came a day after European officials launched a program called Generators of Hope, which calls on more than 200 cities across the continent to donate power generators and electricity transformers.

The generators are intended to help keep essential Ukrainian facilities running, providing power to hospitals, schools and water-pumping stations, among other infrastructure.

In Kyiv, the mayor says 70% of the Ukrainian capital has been left without power a day after Russia unleashed yet another devastating missile barrage.

Nov. 24, 2022

Generators may provide only a tiny amount of the energy that Ukraine will need during the cold and dark winter months.

But the comfort and relief they provide is already evident as winter weather arrives and power outages occur regularly. The whine and rumble of generators is becoming commonplace, allowing stores that have them to stay open and Ukraine’s ubiquitous coffee shops to keep serving hot drinks and maintain a semblance of normality.

Despite strong wind, rain, subzero temperatures at night, icing and broken power lines, more than 70% of Ukraine’s electricity requirements were being met Friday morning, the country’s state power grid operator Ukrenergo said in a statement.

The electricity supply has been at least partially restored in all regions of Ukraine, and the country’s energy grid was once again connected to that of the European Union, said Volo-dymyr Kudrytskyi, Ukrenergo’s chief executive.

The Russian president appears to have delegated the delivery of bad news about Ukraine to others — a tactic he also used during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nov. 18, 2022

Kudrytskyi added that, despite the progress, about half of Ukrainian residents continue to experience disruption. He added that all three of Ukraine’s nuclear plants in areas controlled by Kyiv have resumed operation.

“In one to two days, nuclear power plants will reach their normal scheduled capacity, and we expect that it will be possible to transfer our consumers to a planned shutdown [schedule] instead of emergency [blackouts],” Kudrytskyi said on Ukrainian TV.

Ukrainian authorities are opening thousands of so-called points of invincibility — heated and powered spaces offering hot meals, electricity and internet connectivity.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Thursday that almost 4,400 such spaces have opened across most of the country.

He scoffed at Moscow’s attempts to intimidate Ukrainian civilians, saying that was the Russian military’s only option after a string of setbacks.

“Either energy terror, or artillery terror, or missile terror — that’s all that Russia has dwindled to under its current leaders,” Zelensky said.

Elsewhere, Ukrainian officials and energy workers continued their push to restore supplies after a Russian barrage across the country Wednesday left tens of millions without power and water.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said Friday morning that heating was back on in a third of the capital’s households, but that half of its population still lacked electricity.

Writing on Telegram, Klitschko added that authorities hoped to provide all consumers in Kyiv with electricity for three hours Friday, following a preset schedule.

As of Friday morning in Kharkiv, all residents of Ukraine’s second-largest city had had their electricity supplies restored, but more than 100,000 in the outlying regions continued to see interruptions, the regional governor said.

In the south, authorities in the city of Mykolaiv said that running water was set to start flowing again after supplies were cut off by Russian strikes Thursday.