Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Sunday, December 10, 2023

Ukraine at War: Weaponizing cold weather


Just like New England, Ukraine is lucky enough to enjoy all four seasons. Yellowish and reddish fall leaves inevitably trigger the memories of the beginning of school. Cherry trees blooming signal the forthcoming of the warmer days. We know it is summer when everyone is complaining about the heat while still enjoying the time spent in nature without heavy jackets and boots. Winters are reserved for evenings at home when it is snowing outside as well as celebrating Christmas and New Year’s. 

Unlike New England, Ukraine borders Russia. As winter approaches and the war rages on, Russia is doing anything in its power to cause Ukrainian citizens to suffer. During the past weeks, Russian forces have been actively attacking critical infrastructure in the country, demolishing around 30% of Ukraine’s power stations. 

On Saturday, Oct. 22, the Russian occupying forces carried out yet another massive missile strike, launching about 40 missile strikes and 16 attacks with Iranian-made drones on energy structures in various regions of Ukraine. Energy facilities are being destroyed even in cities as remote from the frontline as Lutsk. The Russian missile strike in the northwest of the country resulted in another destruction of the energy facilities. Although the Ukrainian defenders managed to target some of the Russian equipment, at least 1.5 millionUkrainians have been left without electricity due to these attacks. 

For regular Ukrainians, this means having to severely restrict power and water use, coming to terms with the unexpected cuts that sometimes make it impossible to work and follow a daily routine. Previously, Ukrainians had already been asked to use less electricity, with nationwide limits on usage between 7:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m.One cannot cook on an electric stove without electricity or take a shower without water. 

Arguably the most terrifying aspect of the damaged interconnected power grid is possible failure of the heating system. According to NBC News, the missile strikes so far have caused at least one billion dollars worth of damage in 10 days. Rebuilding the destroyed systems would take six to nine months if repairs start immediately. Ukrainian energy infrastructure is built based on “a Soviet-era idea of interconnectedness,” meaning that former-Soviet Russia knows exactly how to destroy its grid which is built to shore up areas that take a hit or otherwise fail. 

Within the preparations for the winter holiday season in Ukraine, we think of ways to evacuate older family members and children to other countries, methods to preserve as much water as possible and alternative tools for keeping our homes warm. However, there are not many of them; as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, 90% of the country’s wind energy and 40%–50% of its solar power are no longer operating. The government is working on restoring the power supply. 

Meanwhile, Russia plans to target the Kakhovka dam on the Dnipro River, another critical piece of infrastructure. Its destruction would lead to a devastation of the water supply to much of the Ukrainian south. Additionally, Russia continues to attack residential buildings and private houses in its campaign to terrorize citizens. As we turn on the heaters as winter approaches in the Northeast, we mustn’t forget the Ukrainains who are without power, searching for any warmth they can get.