Ukraine implements nationwide hourly energy shutdowns after Russian strikes

State energy operator Ukrenergo announced the emergency blackout protocol, citing urgent electricity deficits after a spate of Russian strikes damaged or disabled several Ukrainian power plants in recent weeks.

Ukraine will begin enforcing hourly rotating blackouts for industrial and residential consumers across the country from Monday evening until midnight, the latest extraordinary measure to relieve intense strain on the nation’s battered energy grid from Russian missile attacks.

State energy operator Ukrenergo announced the emergency blackout protocol, citing urgent electricity deficits after a spate of Russian strikes damaged or disabled several Ukrainian power plants in recent weeks. The planned hourly outages will take effect nationwide starting at 6:00 pm local time on May 20.

Critical infrastructure like hospitals, water facilities and Ukraine’s telecommunications network are exempt and will continue receiving uninterrupted power supply, according to Ukrenergo. However, the operator warned that practically every other segment of Ukrainian society – from factories to households – should brace for scheduled blackouts on an hourly basis through the evening and overnight hours.

The drastic energy-saving steps underscore the heavy toll of Russia’s missile barrages targeting Ukraine’s power grid and other critical civilian infrastructure over the past year of its invasion. While Ukrainian air defences have become more robust, a portion of the strikes still breach through – cutting electricity, heating and water for millions of people.

The rotating blackouts could drag on for several months until major repair work is completed at damaged or destroyed power stations. Yuriy Boyko, an adviser to Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, warned Ukrainians that the outages may persist through August.

Kyiv has accused Moscow of deliberate “energy terrorism” by bombing civilian utilities and power sources. But Russia insists the infrastructure sites are legitimate military targets being used by Ukrainian forces.

Already this month, Ukraine introduced emergency blackout schedules for parts of the capital Kyiv and surrounding regions. The new protocols being rolled out now represent an intensification and nationwide expansion of the conservation measures.

Past Russian attacks have exposed Ukraine’s ageing Soviet-era power grid as a critical vulnerability that has left major cities like Kharkiv struggling to keep the lights on. Kyiv has rushed to import extra electricity transformers and generators from European allies while pushing to rapidly repair strike-damaged facilities and thermal plants ahead of winter.

But officials say the barrage of Russian missile barrages – coupled with Ukraine’s surging wartime energy needs – has created dire shortages that require controlled, temporary blackouts to stabilize the grid. Ukrenergo is urging businesses and citizens to minimize non-essential electricity consumption between 6:00 pm and midnight to help alleviate pressure.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russia’s “senseless war” has forced his country to undergo these “dark hours.” But he vowed in a recent address that they would do everything to overcome this threat, just like we overcome all other threats.