Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy issued a warning to Russia, stating that Ukraine is prepared to defend its energy infrastructure and retaliate if Russia carries out air operations aimed at destroying the national energy grid this winter. The statement was made public on Telegram, where Zelenskyy emphasized that Ukraine will not only defend itself but also respond to any attacks. This comes amid heightened concerns that Russia plans to target Ukraine’s key energy installations to demoralize its population, similar to the attacks carried out last winter that resulted in massive power outages across Ukraine.
Russian officials have previously justified such actions by labelling Ukraine’s energy infrastructure as a legitimate military target. However, Ukraine has significantly bolstered its military capabilities recently, according to the Guardian. Although the country still lacks long-range weapons, it has made advancements in drone technology and has received Storm Shadow cruise missiles and ATACMS long-range ballistic missiles from Western allies. These developments have not gone unnoticed by Russia, as Zelenskyy pointed out that Russian forces have started to withdraw their fleet from Crimea and move their aircraft further from Ukrainian borders.
In recent months, Ukraine has also taken a more aggressive stance, launching attacks on the Crimea peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014, reported BBC. The Ukrainian military has employed maritime drones loaded with explosives to target Russian naval vessels. Russian officials have accused Ukraine of attacking an electrical substation and other energy installations, causing power outages in western Russian regions bordering Ukraine. Last week, Ukraine announced the first use of US-supplied ATACMS missiles, causing severe damage to two airfields in Berdyansk and Lugansk, located in Russian-occupied Ukrainian territory.
Several countries, including the United States and the European Union, are calling for restraint and diplomatic dialogue to resolve the crisis. As winter approaches, the situation remains tense, with both Ukraine and Russia preparing for possible military confrontations. Ukraine’s enhanced military capabilities and willingness to retaliate mark a new phase in the ongoing conflict, one that could have far-reaching implications for regional stability.