Ukraine Situation Report: Kyiv’s Biggest Power Plant Destroyed

Russia’s campaign against Ukrainian energy infrastructure has claimed one of its most prominent targets so far.

byThomas Newdick|
Kharkiv power plant destroyed
Via X


A major power plant near Kyiv was reportedly completely destroyed today in a Russian missile and drone attack, part of the continued campaign being waged against Ukrainian energy infrastructure across the country. The coal-fired Trypilska Thermal Power Plant was just one of the facilities targeted by Russia today, in what Moscow said was retaliation for Ukrainian attacks on its own oil, gas, and energy infrastructure.

Photos and videos shared on social media today showed the Trypilska plant, which is situated around 31 miles (50 kilometers) to the south of Kyiv, on fire. A large column of black smoke was seen rising from the Soviet-era facility in the imagery, the largest operational power plant in the region in terms of power-generating capacity, according to the operator Centrenergo. With a capacity of 1,800-megawatt hours, the plant provided power for the Kyiv, Cherkasy, and Zhytomyr regions.

“Everything is destroyed,” said Andriy Gota, head of the supervisory board of the state-owned energy company Centrenergo, which runs Trypilska.

Elsewhere in Ukraine, the latest round of Russian attacks also struck thermal and hydroelectric power plants.

The Ukrenergo grid operator said that its substations and power-generating facilities had been damaged in attacks on the regions of Odesa, Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia, Lviv, and Kyiv.

Ukraine’s largest private electricity company, DTEK, said that two of its power stations had been seriously damaged. The company added that it had already lost 80 percent of its generating capacity as a result of Russian attacks between March 22 and March 29.

Other targets included two underground storage facilities for natural gas, although they continued to operate, Ukrainian state-run energy company Naftogaz said. 

According to the Ukrainian Air Force, a total of 82 missiles and Iranian-designed Shahed series drones were launched against Ukraine, with local air defenses defeating 18 of the incoming missiles and 39 drones. The missiles consisted of a mixture of Kh-101 and Kh-555 air-launched cruise missiles, Kinzhal air-launched ballistic missiles, Kh-59 air-launched standoff missiles, and missiles from S-300 air defense systems used in a surface-to-surface capacity.

As a result of the attacks, “the work of Ukrainian military industry enterprises was disrupted, the transfer of reserves to combat areas was thwarted, and the supply of fuel to the squads and military units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine was hampered,” the Russian Ministry of Defense said.

While Moscow described the latest raids as retaliation for Ukrainian long-range drone strikes, they are part of a wider campaign launched this winter against energy infrastructure in the country. The attacks have piled pressure on Ukraine’s energy system, which was still recovering from a similar campaign during the winter of 2022-23.

In recent days, the waves of Russian missile and drone strikes had been more concentrated on the Kharkiv region to the east of Kyiv, which borders Russia. Moscow may have taken advantage of the focus on Kharkiv to strike the Trypilska power plant. The capital is typically the best-defended city in Ukraine, but it’s possible at least some air defense assets may have been moved to Kharkiv in recent weeks.

Russia's offensive targeting Kharkiv, which began in March, has already caused major blackouts in that region, with around 200,000 people without power, according to presidential aide Oleksiy Kuleba.

U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink today said that 10 missiles had also struck critical infrastructure in the Kharkiv area, indicating that Russia is keeping up the pressure there, too.

“The situation in Ukraine is dire; there is not a moment to lose,” Brink added.

Notably, Ukraine is running increasingly low on missiles for its air defense systems, while suitable systems that are available are being spread ever more thinly to try and cope with the Russian onslaught.

“We need air defense and other defense support, not eye-closing and long discussions,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Telegram today, while denouncing the Russian “terror” attacks.

Ukrainian and Western officials have repeatedly warned that their military may run out of air defense missiles if Russia continues to launch attacks of this intensity.

However, with a significant package of U.S. aid still held up in Congress, amid a general slowdown in the transfer of Western arms to Ukraine, the situation is becoming increasingly precarious.

In particular, Ukraine is making calls for more U.S.-made Patriot air defense systems, which offer the best means of countering Russian ballistic missiles.

“Ukraine remains the only country in the world facing ballistic strikes,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba wrote on X. “There is currently no other place for Patriots to be.” Kuleba added that the latest wave of strikes had involved six ballistic missiles.

While Patriot has demonstrated success against ballistic missile and even air-launched ballistic missile threats, these systems are also needed to engage tactical aircraft threats, including closer to the front lines, as well as cruise missiles and drones.

Before diving into more developments from the conflict in Ukraine, The War Zone readers can review our previous coverage here.

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In more worrying news for Ukraine, a leading U.S. commander has assessed that the Russian Armed Forces have replaced their battlefield losses much quicker than expected and have now “grown back to what they were before.”

Army Gen. Christopher G. Cavoli, commander of U.S. European Command, and NATO’s supreme allied commander on the continent, wrote that “Russia is reconstituting that force far faster than our initial estimates suggested,” with the result that its military is now 15 percent larger than it was when it launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

At the same time, as we have pointed out before, Russia’s qualitative advantage has diminished in the process of making good these losses, at least in some key areas. In particular, North Korean weaponry now being employed by Russia is very likely inferior to Russian-made equivalents, while Russia’s tank force is now making use of ancient T-62, and even T-54/55 tanks, with the latest T-14 Armata being conspicuous by its absence.

Outdated equipment isn't enough to turn the tide of the war in Ukrane's favor, Cavoli contends.

“They are now being outshot by the Russian side five to one. So the Russians fire five times as many artillery shells at the Ukrainians than the Ukrainians are able to fire back. That will immediately go to 10 to one in a matter of weeks,” Cavoli said. As for the potential collapse of the Ukrainian front, if more Western weapons are not delivered, “We’re not talking about months. We’re not talking hypothetically,” Cavoli warned.

Looking at the Russian Aerospace Forces specifically, Cavoli stated that there had not been “significant losses in the air domain, especially their long-range and strategic aviation fleets.”

Speaking during a House Armed Services Committee hearing, the general said that “the [Russian] air force has lost some aircraft, but only about 10 percent of their fleet.” Russian long-range bombers have operated almost exclusively within Russian airspace, using standoff weapons. As such, their main threat has been provided when on the ground, in the form of Ukrainian long-range drone strikes.

A bizarre Russian 'turtle tank' — a tank covered by a shed-like steel apparatus designed to defend against drone attacks that you can read about in our previous coverage here — has appeared again on the battlefield. The first identified example of a Russian tank with modifications like this was apparently destroyed when the warehouse it was in was targeted, but another example — with some obvious differences in the shape of its covering — has been sighted since then, suggesting that the design has been deemed at least worthy of continued evaluation.

Other Russian efforts to protect tanks and other vehicles against drone attacks have involved electronic warfare equipment. There are multiple accounts attesting to the effectiveness of at least some of these jamming systems, although the equipment assigned to defend the tank in the video below clearly didn't do its job.

More footage has emerged of apparent operations on territory within Russia’s borders by Ukrainian UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters. At least two of these rotorcraft are used by Ukraine’s Main Directorate of Intelligence (GUR) and they appear to have been particularly active, of late, in Russia’s Belgorod region, close to the Ukrainian border. 

The next video includes footage of recent Russian strike specifically using Iskander short-range ballistic missiles The video has been subject to considerable discussion. While Russian sources championed the destruction of no fewer than 32 examples of the D-20 152mm towed howitzers, Ukrainian accounts claimed that the guns had been withdrawn from use as long ago as 2017, and were stored in this facility, near the town of Akhtyrka, in the Sumy region, where they were used as a spares source.

Among Ukrainian air defense systems, one of those less commonly seen is the S-125, known to NATO as the SA-3 Goa, a Cold War-era short-to-medium-range surface-to-air missile that uses radio command guidance. Being optimized for lower-flying and more maneuverable targets, in this instance, it appears to have been successful against a Russian drone, somewhere in the south of the country.

Broadly equivalent to the S-125, in terms of capabilities and vintage is the U.S.-made HAWK surface-to-air missile also used by Ukraine. The system is already in use with the Ukrainian Armed Forces, but the U.S. State Department recently approved a $138-million package for long-term support and upgrades for the I-HAWK Phase III systems that have already been delivered, from both legacy U.S. and Spanish stocks.

A report in the Wall Street Journal claims that drones provided to Ukraine by the U.S. Skydio company have fallen well short of expectations. In particular, it's reported that the Skydio drones have proven vulnerable to Russian electronic warfare systems. This has forced the firm to redevelop its designs.

"The general reputation for every class of U.S. drone in Ukraine is that they don’t work as well as other systems," Skydio Chief Executive Adam Bry was reported as saying.

Russian development of uncrewed ground vehicles (UGVs) continues apace. One of the most recent examples to have been seen in action is the Courier, billed as a platform that can be armed with weapons including AGS-series automatic grenade launchers, various light and heavy machine guns, man-portable thermobaric rockets, and rocket-propelled grenades. Reportedly, the same drone can also be configured to deliver mines and can be fitted with electronic warfare equipment, likely to defend against Ukrainian drone attacks.

Trench warfare continues to rage on the front lines in the war, with the helmet-camera footage below showing a Russian soldier’s viewpoint as they storm a Ukrainian trench, with scant regard for regular peacetime safety procedures. Most notably, the soldier grasps a grenade in his right hand, while also firing his rifle, pausing briefly to lob the grenade toward enemy positions, shouting out a warning to his fellow fighters, and then continuing to move forward, still firing their gun.

Finally, more footage from the trenches now, and the dramatic moment in which a Ukrainian first-person-view drone dives onto a Russian position. The apparent lack of explosion may suggest that, on this occasion, the Russian soldiers in question had a very lucky escape, with the drone's warhead perhaps failing to detonate.

That's it for now.

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