“Will Ukrainians be without power this winter?” - a manipulative tactic favoured by Russian propaganda
The question on everyone’s mind in Ukraine is a simple yet critical one: will there be electricity in autumn and winter 2023-2024? This question has been discussed in society since October 2022, when the Russian army began its assault on Ukrainian energy infrastructure facilities.
Fueling the “discussion” are unscrupulous Telegram channels and websites looking for more views. Most of their posts and publications resemble little more than wild guesses, lacking any factual basis. And yet, clickbait prevails, leading many to believe these unsubstantiated rumors.
This ongoing “discussion” plays right into the hands of enemy propaganda. Ukrainian citizens are weary from enduring daily power outages that can last anywhere from 3 to 15 hours. For as long as 3 to 5 months. The occupiers’ narrative aims to exploit this fatigue: “stop fighting; we need to negotiate on the basis of what we have now; we should live in peace with uninterrupted power supply and other comforts of civilization.”
For instance, the largest Telegram channel in the country, Trukha Ukraina, which recently asked some Members of Parliament - even those far removed from the energy sector - whether Ukraine would be plunged into total darkness in winter. The MPs happily speculated about whether they could fully repair the equipment to 100% or 60% capacity, or even just manage a mere 1.5% improvement before the year’s end.
Dmytro Sakharuk, the Executive Director of DTEK, revealed that they had already undertaken the repair of nine power units at their thermal power plants since the beginning of spring. Seven more are currently in the process of being restored, with a total of 27 power units slated for repair by year’s end. Moreover, 15 new coal longwall minings have been commissioned, and another 12 will begin operating by the end of the year.
Yuriy Korolchuk, co-founder of the Energy Strategies Foundation, doesn’t share an overly optimistic outlook. He suggests that in certain areas, blackouts may extend for as long as ten hours.
Regional Telegram channels have already started buzzing with messages warning of potential temporary power disruptions due to damage to cable lines under the strain of heavy usage.
In some instances, so-called “experts” are making statements anonymously, a tactic aimed at sowing panic and mistrust among the populace.
These anonymous channels occasionally go so far as to spread outright fakes, like the claim that Ukrenergo would even release an outage schedule for every city by August 15.
As of August 19, that prediction has proven false. Volodymyr Kudrytskyi, Chairman of the Board of NPC Ukrenergo, stated that there are no planned emergency power outages for August.
However, it’s important to note that power cuts can still occur in localities due to adverse weather conditions or hostilities, but these incidents aren’t systemic.
A survey conducted by the Democratic Initiatives Foundation in collaboration with the Centre for Political Sociology reveals that Ukrainians mostly fear massive shelling and disruptions in heat and power supply in the upcoming months. 45% of the population anticipates potential disruptions to their power, heating, or water supply.