BERLIN, June 11 — Russian strikes on Ukraine’s energy facilities have destroyed half of its electricity generation capacity since winter, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said today.

Months of Russian strikes have caused severe energy shortages in Ukraine, leading to scheduled power outages and blackouts.

“As a result of the strikes of Russian missiles and drones, nine gigawatts of capacity have already been destroyed. The peak of electricity consumption last winter was 18 gigawatts. So half now doesn’t exist,” Zelensky told a conference in Berlin.

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Zelensky also urged allies to supply more air defence systems, saying: “It is missile and bomb terror that helps Russian troops advance on the ground.”

“Air defence is the answer,” he said.

Ukraine’s state power operator said it was extending scheduled outages around the country because of increased consumption.

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“Today... the period of application of hourly outage schedules throughout Ukraine has been extended — restrictions will be imposed from 2pm to 11pm,” Ukrenergo said in a statement.

The company had announced outages yesterday between 4-10pm and had said there would be outages today between 2-7pm.

“The reason is that consumption continues to grow. At the same time, due to extensive damage, Ukrainian power plants cannot produce as much electricity as before the attacks,” the company said.

Zelensky said the strikes showed Russian President Vladimir Putin was trying to “hone the practice of destroying energy facilities” including connections between the Ukrainian and European energy systems.

Ukrenergo chairman Volodymyr Kudrytsky said last week that it could take “years” for Ukraine to restore its full generating capacity.

“We are dealing with an absolutely unprecedented scale of destruction,” he said, adding that the capacity of thermal power plants was at a “historic” low with “virtually no hydroelectric power plant that has not been damaged.”

“It is technically impossible to restore these damaged power plants quickly. It will take time: weeks, often months, sometimes years,” he said in a media interview published on Ukrenergo’s Telegram channel.

Asked whether Ukrainian energy facilities constituted legitimate military targets, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “Without a doubt, in concrete cases this has to do with military infrastructure”. — AFP