Zelensky Plays Up the Scale of Russian Strikes on Electricity for the West

Interests of Moscow and Kiev find themselves briefly aligned

Kiev in dark — image that is potentially worth billions in baby seals points

Last week Zelensky claimed that Russia had “destroyed” 30% of Ukrainian “power stations” in a week of cruise missile attacks. Ukrainian state TV followed by broadcasting from a candle-lit studio.

This was very strange behavior from Kiev. Strange from a couple of different angles:

According to the open-source stuff I saw, Russia had almost exclusively been hitting power distribution rather than power generation. Transformer stations rather than power plants. So how could Russia have destroyed 30% of power stations of this very large country when it largely hadn’t even been targeting them? Very Strange.

Indeed, electricity generation data that Ukrenergo supplies to the International Energy Agency did not show any decline in the week Zelensky referenced. More strangeness. (Data shows remarkably stable power output since March. The drop in late February is due to drop in demand connected to seasonal factors and the outbreak of war.) Sure, Ukrenergo is not the country’s only power provider, but it is the biggest one. You would expect some of the 30% drop to occur among its plants.

Another weird thing. Ukraine prescribes harsh penalties for filming and publishing cruise missile impact sites. This is done to keep up morale and deny the enemy damage assessment data. Yet here was Zelensky both sharing demoralizing news and letting the enemy know how effective its strikes had been. Most strange.

Same thing with the national broadcaster. There was energy enough to film and to broadcast so was switching off the lights really necessary? How much did that save? You would think that even if there was a much deeper power shortage of say 80%, that state TV is one of those strategic assets that would be supplied until the end, and the last to feel it. But strangely not in Ukraine.

The episode reminds me of the period of May-June when Kiev suddenly started advertising its military losses. Ukraine went from being (similarly to Russia) very reluctant to disclose its daily KIA rates to suddenly talking about them once per week. On May 24 ( when it said it was losing 50-100 daily), on June 1 (60-100), June 9 (100-200), June 10 (100). This period of seeming openness coincided with a very aggressive push by Kiev for more weapons (which happened as first HIMARS arrived next month).

I can not tell you what game Zelensky is playing here. That’s for you to decide. But I can tell you what incentives he is subject to. Where the domestic audience is concerned his incentive is to moderately downplay blows suffered by Ukraine and to contextualize them.

But where the Western audience is concerned his incentive is to zoom in on the damage sustained by Ukraine and wildly exaggerate and promote it. Whether it is Bosnia, Kosovo, Darfur, Libya, Syria, or Rohingya, whenever someone is courting greater Western intervention they have an enormous incentive to play up their suffering.

For Kiev saying that Ukraine lost 30% of its electricity in a week makes for a strong argument that West should supply it with air defenses and urgently so!

Now Zelensky can say that a gift of air defenses would actually be saving the West money, as it prevents a Ukrainian economic collapse, that would cost the US and EU even more in aid billions.

Would such air defense aid be worth massaging the truth a little bit and getting the state TV to put on a bit of a show?

Zelensky tweets in both Ukrainian and English. Often the same statement will be tweeted in both languages. The 30% claim was published in English only.

Did Russia really “destroy” 30% of Ukraine’s power stations? Maybe. After all, on October 10 Ukraine declared it would stop exporting power to Europe. But the head of DTEK, the country’s largest private power provider (owned by oligarch Rinat Akhmetov), explains this is actually connected to preserving gas and coal stocks to shield against future uncertainty.

Rather it could be that Moscow and Kiev briefly found their interests aligned. Moscow gets to say it responded to the Crimea bridge attack forcefully, and Kiev gets more ammunition for why it needs yet more support from the West.

After all, the decrease in demand for power since the war started has left Ukraine with a sizeable excess capacity, particularly thermal power. Even if it had lost a chunk of its power generation (a loss that somehow didn’t appear in Ukrenergo’s stats) it should have been able to make up for it by temporarily powering up the under-utilized coal-fired plants. (Whose owners complain it is impossible for them to turn a profit.)

Indeed, Ukraine’s excess power-generating capacity might be the reason why Russia targeted power distribution rather than power generation in the first place. If the other side has excess generation it would take numerous strikes just to get it down to 100% and the immediate effect on consumers would be null.

My guess is that there is real damage to some of the distribution grid, and that is what is behind the blackouts which are local, but the only sizeable damage to generation has been the physical capture of Energodar NPP in February and the end to the import of Russian anthracite.

Zelensky should have said that Russia had destroyed 30% of transformer stations and it would have been somewhat more believable. Or that 30% of the plants had been severed from the grid.

And that would have still been an exaggeration.

  1. Agarwal says

    It is not clear to me that striking substations is in any way more efficient or cheap than striking power generation plants themselves. Quite the opposite. Get a good strike on the actual power generation plant and that’s it, it’s done for years. Strike a substation and get ready to strike it several more times (at least) as new transformers and circuits are laid down. The only thing that would explain this strategy to me is humanitarianism on the Russians’ part, hitting things that are much easier to fix and route around, and not freeze thousands of people to death this winter.

    1. Oscar Peterson says

      So does Putin have a strategy (beyond humanitarianism or pan-East-Slavism)?

      1. Agarwal says

        I guess Putin is looking for a settlement, and not as the more gung-ho pro-Russia people hope the occupation of most of Ukraine. His actions don’t create a situation where Russia could take large chunks of the country, I don’t think 300k extra troops is enough for that. Maybe he thinks the extra troops along with infrastructure attacks along with energy problems in Europe will create a situation where a settlement is likely sometime in the first half of 2023?

        I don’t think a frozen conflict makes sense even to Putin, with continued large-scale attrition on Russian forces.

        Or maybe he thinks 300k more troops will allow taking Odessa or some other big prize this winter?

        There is *some* plan, doesn’t mean it’s a good one

  2. Oscar Peterson says

    “Zelensky Plays Up the Scale of Russian Strikes on Electricity for the West”

    He did that with the Iranian drones as well. And he’s probably got Western consultants telling him just how to do it too.

  3. Yuno says

    “The 30% claim was published in English only.”

    Yes, that is a pretty clear ‘tell’ supporting the idea you’ve advanced – or strongly hinted at. It’s certainly a given that the Ukes are constantly trying to ‘prime to pump’ for more western goodies.

    But the ‘dangling chad’ you’ve inserted needs be fleshed out; you’ve described the “strange” conjunction of Rus & Ukie narratives as a mystery. Most of that element disappears when the conventional storyline about the “police action” TM is dropped… and a fresher perspective employed.

    Altho not ‘popular even with the usual ‘conspiracy’ crowd, the idea that the two sides are both receiving instructions from the same ‘upper story’ is increasing difficult to avoid. In order to shake free of the blinders which the media narratives encourage via their partisan prejudices, one simply needs ask a couple of questions.

    Like – Hoo benefits from the ongoing destruction of manpower and infrastructure, which only seems to be intensifying as the ‘police action’ heads towards one year of ‘Keystone Kops’ versus the Adams Family?

    What possible use could some “unknown” party have for the region we call “Ukraine” & adjoining marches of East Europe?

    What – to paraphrase Voltaire – is that we are never allowed to talk about; or at least… everyone choose not to discuss?

    Back in my working days, it was hilarious to see how many ‘junkyards’ in downtown areas with latent ‘development potential’ were owned by Hoos. I think they got a real kick out of sitting in their shabby offices in the midst of all that scrap… while nursing million $ bank accounts and waiting patiently for the right time to sell up, and buying up most of the block around them in the mean while.

    Even tho the younger ‘investment bankers\lawyers\doctors’ of the breed tend now to give themselves over to ostentatious wealth signaling, and the Lubavitchers who flock to McMansions are beyond crude in their noveau riche manner, the older guys were canny beyond all description – millionaires posing as ‘rag pickers’ metaphorically.

    Ukraine is all about “location, location, location.” Once the developers are ‘ready’…. Slavs won’t be able to ‘pay the rent’ the new shetl state will be charging. And Zelensky will be lucky to find work as a parking attendant.

    1. peterinanz says

      “…. the idea that the two sides are both receiving instructions from the same ‘upper story’ is increasing difficult to avoid…..”
      Now, disclaimer: you appear to have strong beliefs and certain online style. I am willing to discuss those beliefs but I’ll abort if it gets into the ..uhm….usual… Internet “debate”.

      My thoughts:
      Maybe the two sides simply operate within the same framework. Or, there is a framework where all players operate within. From top to the bottom.
      True, one could start pointing to who, exactly, created that framework, and why.
      Or maybe the framework is given by itself (history, human nature, natural resources etc.) ; the catch is who controls it.

      Zelensky isn’t even a player, IMHO. Just an actor. Players are those who direct his handlers.
      Putin is a player. He is forced to play the game he isn’t good at. He’s a weak party trying to preserve his position in the game he and his team aren’t built for.

      Fundamentally, it is a finance capitalism seeking, for own survival, new resources to exploit. People on top of that game are The Players. Now, true, a lot of them are Them. Still…maybe it’s Them because they’ve been genetically bred from Middle Ages to play that game. Something MacDonald wrote about.
      Anyway, they do know what they need. And they do know what to do to get it.
      Putin and his team are in position to have something those types want. Now, Putin doesn’t have..can’t have actually….anything against the finance capitalism and managerial state. Against The Game. All he wants is his share there.
      Well..the problem is, “they” want his share and want it hard. I believe that they believe that taking over RF resources will save The Game itself.

      So, Putin has a conundrum. He IS against “them” but not against The Game. And, well…”they” are the masters of that game. I know, sounds confusing. Good. Whoever doesn’t get what I am trying to say please ignore this and move on.

      So, the end game, as far as RF/Ukraine is concerned is something as RF under that fat drunkard, on steroids.
      To get there “they” are willing, and able, to reorganize West along war lines and wage protracted, hard, conventional war in the theatre.

      There are phases in all this and multiple players, from top to bit below it, have multiple angles, methods and timeframes. Interesting but not very important. Can’t do much about it.

      Important is, for us, plebs living in the West, it means austerity and panopticon. CBDC and the rest. All well documented. Maybe we could do something about it. Maybe.

      Putin and his team have been simply playing to preserve at least something of their share. They are in delaying mode hoping that buying time will give them an opportunity for better deal. In the Clown World anything is possible.

      1. Yuno says

        Your allusion to “internet debate” a bit hard to fathom, be assured that I am capable of walking and chewing gum at the same time, and when in the company of gentlemen… even able to masquerade as one. Since capable interlocutors able to string coherent ideas together are scarcer than hen’s teeth in the fallen lands of the west now, I will handle your concerns with ‘kid gloves’ squire.

        It may be peripheral to the heart of the matter that you seem to assign very different status to Zelensky & Putin… the one a mere ‘actor’ and the other a ‘player’ …but it bears mentioning that the root meaning of the two words in English are almost identical. For some reason, Vlad is supposed to be a cut above the journeyman crisis actor character who occupies every ‘seat of power’ in puppet nation states across the globe. I may be wrong, but I believe that skews the ability to bring a balanced analysis of the power dynamics to the table.

        The gangsta/oilygarch/MIC conglomeration that is the post-Yeltsin skeleton Russ gets so much lipstick painted on it by dreamers who think the best way to resist their own faux government is to root for the opposing faux gov… that it’s almost impossible for folks to see that jungle for the trees!

        Ironically, if you used the same ‘paint by numbers’ kit to assemble a picture of the nearly identical conglomeration of corrupt ‘security/intelligence’ entities[fbi/cia/mi6/5 etc]military industrial/finance complex/and complicit weasel hand puppets fronting it all…

        the resulting picture is a commonplace meme. Why different strokes for the same ol jokes? Enuff of that.

        Analyses of depth & insight as performed by folks like Kevin MacDonald et al ALL suffer from the same lack in the end; there is no ‘THEY'[to use your chosen descriptor] in fact – there is …the Hoos, their chosen enemies in the gentile world…. and then the SABBATEAN-FRANKISTS who ride herd on both. The latter ARE international finance capital. They bleed into the hudaic continuum so as to best disguise their own absolute power and to leverage hudaic synergistic power dynamics[the same model the Armenians were successful with – which is what made them competitors necessary to eliminate!]

        and since they own ‘the medias’ in addition to the structure of finance.. and now all political levels of power … it’s relatively easy to keep a lid on this forbidden topic. To talk about the ‘WILD FIELDS’ however -as the vast steppe land which Ukraine is part of was once known – one needs be both cognizant of & willing to talk about… the BEAST. The same one which created both “the Nazis” & the Bolsheviks. When the Frankist powers that be pulled Schneersohn out of the Warsaw ghetto via their puppet Nazi Gaultier’s, the whole game was exposed ‘forever’ … they were the very same power brokers who put Trotsky & Lenin on the sealed train and sent them into Rus like a SARSCOVID time bomb.

        HOW this vapid dialectical shell game manages to entrance & fool most of the peeple, most of the time is the only REAL mystery worth talking about. Personally, I think it’s the ‘schooling’ that does it. The best kind of ‘mind control’ is the one which is never noticed. Takes years of living outside the confines of ‘the first world’ to even begin to deconstruct the inner cobwebs that prohibit the use of ‘one’s own lying eyes’… to see things as they really be.

        We live in the manner of shadow-puppet mannequins, unable to even divine whether we are cast, audience, or stage crew. No one even imagines a life without ‘strings.’

        1. peterinanz says

          “…a picture of the nearly identical conglomeration of corrupt ‘security/intelligence’ entities[fbi/cia/mi6/5 etc]military industrial/finance complex/and complicit weasel hand puppets fronting it all…
          the resulting picture is a commonplace meme. Why different strokes…”
          Because there ARE differences, most important their power, ability to influence real world events. NZ can’t do anything. Russia can. Then, there are cultural differences resulting in modified methodologies for attaining primary objective. In practical sense, and that’s always my approach, there are differences in lives of plebs within each managerial circle. Living in Australia isn’t, really, as living in Russia.
          “…the SABBATEAN-FRANKISTS who ride herd on both. The latter ARE international finance capital. …”
          Because I do believe that the international finance capital is The Real Power of the World any links/pointers supporting your approach (this place isn’t for proper explanations) ?
          “… one needs be both cognizant of & willing to talk about… the BEAST…”
          Links too?
          You could be onto something here. Re “pulled Schneersohn”, even Wiki:
          “… Schneersohn refused to leave Warsaw. The government of the United States of America, which was still neutral, used its diplomatic relations to convince Nazi Germany to rescue Schneersohn from the war zone in German-occupied Poland.[20] ……With the intercession of the United States Department of State in Washington, DC and with the lobbying of many Jewish leaders, such as Jacob Rutstein, on behalf of the Rebbe (and, reputedly, also with the help of Admiral Wilhelm Canaris,[21] the head of the Abwehr), he was finally granted diplomatic immunity and given safe passage to go via Berlin to Riga, Latvia (where the Rebbe was a citizen and which was still free) and then on to New York City, where he arrived on 19 March 1940.”
          Two things. Define the opponent. I assume we are talking about humans here. Had, since the start of Scamdmic, a brush with people who blame Satan. Not my thing I am afraid. Humans needs organizing to create power. So, who are those people and what are their organizations, as of today? Fink with Blackrock? Must be name(s) and outfit(s).
          You hinted at their ultimate objective (transhumanism etc.). Any intermediary objectives, with timeframes? Say, CBDC and Universal Digital ID etc. till 2025? Links would be good here.
          Then, the only really important: what would be a counter to their effort by plebs as us? Is it even possible?
          Somebody must’ve thought about all that. Somebody could’ve made a feasibility study. Maybe even a proposition on how to execute the counter? Could be interesting readings I guess.

          There could be a modification of your approach: the game itself, culminating in finance capitalism, isn’t their (those SABBATEAN-FRANKISTS) creation. It’s just a natural progression from the cave. Human nature etc. Maybe they are simply the best at it, for a couple of reasons. Maybe they don’t “ride” the rest. Only sit at the top of the pyramid, but all those around that top, say 1 %, don’t mind it at all. They need them to well manage the game. They, 1% ride the rest, us in particular, with those characters simply sitting at the top of it. Say, those types get removed, what happens next? Some other group within that 1 % simply fills the vacuum and we get culled, chipped and “managed”.

          In any case thinking what we, the plebs, can DO about it, and HOW, would seem a good use of our time and effort. For some of us, that is, who’d like to go beyond Web infotainment on these topics.
          And to come clean as to “do” and “how” educating masses and praying to deities isn’t something I am, personally, keen on. Plenty of that market already taken with a lot of grifters making a killing as we speak.

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