Kyiv preparing for possible total evacuation of its 3 million residents if the city loses electricity supply, report says
- Russia is attacking Ukraine's energy infrastructure with missiles and drones.
- An official said if Kyiv's electricity grid was about to fail they would request residents to leave.
Kyiv is preparing for an emergency evacuation of its approximately three million residents if the city loses electricity due to ongoing Russian attacks, The New York Times reported.
After suffering a series of battlefield defeats, Russian forces have been bombarding Ukraine's power plants with missiles and drones. The attacks have damaged or destroyed nearly 40% of its energy infrastructure, the paper reported.
A total blackout could leave residents without electricity, water, or heat, as the typically harsh winter sets in.
Officials in Ukraine's capital city are now preparing for the possibility of a complete evacuation if Kyiv is unable to maintain its electricity grid.
"We understand that if Russia continues such attacks, we may lose our entire electricity system," Roman Tkachuk, the director of security for the Kyiv municipal government, told the paper.
Officials said they were likely to get at least 12 hours notice if the grid was about to fail, and in that situation, Tkachuk said, "we will start informing people and requesting them to leave."
He said that while the situation remains manageable and Kyiv's residents did not appear to be fleeing, the city losing power would mean services that relied on them would stop, including water and sewage.
"That's why currently the government and city administration is taking all possible measures to protect our power supply system," he said.
Ukraine's state-owned energy operator, Ukrenergo, said on Saturday that it would continue to impose rolling blackouts in seven regions across the country, including Kyiv, to avoid overloading the electrical grid.
Engineers have been working to repair the damaged energy infrastructure but have no easy way to obtain the expensive equipment needed for the task, which costs hundreds of millions of dollars, The New York Times reported.
Blast walls are being set up to protect power stations from damage during attacks.
The city is also planning to set up 1,000 heating shelters that can double as bunkers while engineers continue trying to fix damaged power stations, but this might not be enough for many residents, per The New York Times.
A number of these are inside educational facilities, the paper reported, but authorities have requested the exact locations not be reported to prevent them from becoming targets.
Later, Tkachuk, speaking to the Ukrainian press, warned: "the mass media not to manipulate information." He told Ukrinform that emergency evacuation was just one of many options that were being considered.
"The civil protection system must be prepared for various options, but this doesn't mean that we are now preparing to launch an evacuation," he said, per Ukrinform.
"Evacuation commissions have long existed in each district in case of completely different emergency situations – from floods to accidents at critical infrastructure facilities. It is important for us to avoid panic and misinformation," said Tkachuk.
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