Russia has been pummelling key infrastructure facilities in Ukraine with missiles and drones for months, disrupting millions of people’s water, heating and electricity supplies.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy praised Ukrainians for surviving a winter marked by systematic Russian attacks on energy facilities, which plunged millions into darkness and cold.
“We have overcome this winter. It was a very difficult period, and every Ukrainian experienced this difficulty, but we were still able to provide Ukraine with power and heat,” Zelenskyy said in his daily address on Wednesday.
Foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba hailed the first day of spring as another “major defeat” for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine.
“We survived the most difficult winter in our history. It was cold and dark, but we were unbreakable,” Kuleba said in a statement.
Aid organisations had warned at the beginning of winter that the targeted campaign would force a new wave of migration to Europe and that Ukraine’s priority would be “survival” through the months of freezing temperatures.
The Kremlin said Kyiv was responsible for civilians’ suffering stemming from the enormous outages because it had refused to capitulate to Moscow’s war demands.
But the grid has been stabilising and Ukrainian energy provider Ukrenergo said on Wednesday there had been “no power deficit” for more than two weeks.
“Engineers are also continuing repairs at all power system facilities that were previously damaged by Russian missile and drone attacks,” it said.
The war in Ukraine has seen Europe shake its deep reliance on Russian oil and gas amid waves of sanctions aimed at stemming Moscow’s ability to fund its military through energy revenues.
“The EU also won, and contrary to Moscow’s laughter, it did not freeze without Russian gas. One piece of advice to Russia: choke on your gas and choke on your missiles,” Kuleba added in the statement.