Last Friday the President of Ukraine discussed with the presidents of Russia and Belarus the problems of natural disaster control in Ukraine. After a telephone conversation with Leonid Kuchma, Vladimir Putin, as Deputy Russian Presidential Chief of Staff Sergei Prikhodko told Interfax, “instructed the Russian Ministry for Emergencies to get in touch immediately with their Ukrainian counterparts in order to identify the real requirements and nature of the aid needed.”
According to Ukrainian Minister for Emergencies Vasyl Durdynets, it seems impossible to quickly restore the life-support systems ruined by the elements due to coming cold.
Despite all governmental assurances that “everything is under control,” the situation is so serious that dealing with the disaster’s consequences was discussed at a meeting of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine on December 8.
The losses inflicted by the elements on this country are approaching an estimated UAH 500 million. The government has decided after long debate that 50 million will be sufficient to neutralize the consequences of the disaster. However, power-supply employees in the affected oblasts say the issue is not only about funding, no matter how serious. The experts are convinced that many troubles could have been averted if government officials managed this sector more professionally from their well-heated and well-lit offices.
Electricity transmission posts, whose designed service life had long passed, were the first to go down. And when one post of this kind falls, it usually draws in another ten. This is called the domino effect. Of course, the government and the Ministry for Fuel and Energy know that high-voltage line posts tend to collapse in precisely this way, just as they know that if nothing is done, this country’s energy system will feel this effect with the very first winter storms. Naturally, it is easier now to put all blame on the elements rather than admit even an iota of responsibility for power outages in apartments and factories.
If the oblenerho regional power supply entities could do the necessary repairs in time, maintaining the power grid in a normal state (it will be recalled that payments for electric power are made through a clearing account, to be further distributed among all energy companies under an algorithm set by the National Electricity Control Commission), the consequences of the natural emergency could have been less dramatic. Energy experts estimate it will take ten days to restore facilities in the worst affected areas provided there are materials, fuel, and equipment. Over two weeks have now passed, but nobody in charge can say when the repairs will be completed. Thus the situation has to be rectified at the expense of Ukrainian heroism and foreign assistance. Moreover, experts emphasized, now that the disaster has revealed the true state of affairs in the sector it will be extremely difficult to privatize the oblenerho enterprises at a profit.