'Ten times more powerful than Chernobyl'
UPDATE 23 MAY 2022
There are currently two Mayors of Enerhodar: one Russian and one Ukrainian. The governance structure is highly opaque.
On 22 May 2022 the Russian Mayor was injured in a blast at his residence in the outskirts of Enerhodar and is reported as currently in hospital. It is not clear what caused the blast; what his injuries were; or what the current de facto governance structure of Enerhodar really is. Nor is it clear in which hospital he is being treated
The Ukrainian Mayor appears to be caring for the welfare of the Russian Mayor.
Before you read this article, which is about impending nuclear disaster in Ukraine and the plunging of central and northern Ukrainian cities into darkness as their electricity supplies are cut off, you need to read all the following articles carefully:
Now here are the facts.
In early March 2022 Russian forces quickly seized Enerhodar nuclear power station, the largest power station in Europe built by the Soviets in the 1980's, as part of a quick land grab of Zaporizhzhiya oblast in south-central Ukraine. The power station is on the south bank of the Kakhovka reservoir, part of the Dniepr river, in central Ukraine.
In the course of seizing the power plant, Russian forces fired what were probably Tochka-U short-range hypersonic tactical ballistic missiles with high-explosive warheads (typical maximum detonation temperature 11,000 C) into the reactor concrete linings.
Then the Russians sealed off the area as a nuclear accident exclusion zone and a whole bunch of Russian nuclear scientists working for the Russian state nuclear agency Rosatom were sent into Enerhodar, using Ukrainian civilian workers as cattle, for God knows what purpose.
Now the Russians are threatening, unless the Ukrainians can pay a huge amount of money they are unable to pay in unpaid energy bills owed to Russia, to disconnect Enerhodar from the Ukrainian national grid - easy, because most of the electricity from Enerhodar crosses to the north bank of the reservoir via the Enerhodar Dniepr Powerline Crossing, a virtually unique structure which one of our earlier articles above describes. Instead, they say, they will connect Enerhodar to the Russian national grid.
Of course Russia does not need any more electricity; it is one or the most hydrocarbon self-sufficient nations in the world. Hence the question of whether connecting Enerhodar to the Russian national grid is logistically possible is somewhat artificial - that is not the point.
Instead the point is to cut the Enerhodar Dniepr Powerline Crossing, something the Russians can do with the flick of a switch at Enerhodar.
This will black out completely the proximate free Ukrainian cities of Zaporizhzhiya (awash with refugees from the East and South) and Dniepropetrovsk, slightly to the north of Zaporizhzhiya, that rely 100 per cent for Enerhodar electricity. The electricity cut will also have unimaginable blackout consequences as far as Kyiv and L'viv.
The Ukrainians have no military capacity to retake Russian seized territory south of the Dniepr River and the Kakhovka reservoir; and even if they did,it would risk reactor fires at the site's six nuclear reactors and the world's biggest nuclear disaster in history.
There are two practical options, short of giving billions of US Dollars in financial assistance intended for Ukraine direct to the Russian treasury on an extortion basis. One is that the Russians do somehow manage to connect Enerhodar to the Russian national grid (or at least the grids of the Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics). The other is that Enerhodar is shut down completely: a complex task that changes entirely the balance of power between Russia and Ukraine.
We suspect that the Russians wish to keep Enerhodar nuclear plant going, to provide electricity to the steel and coal rich Donbass region the remainder of which they are in the (if gradual and haphazard) process of occupying.
Hence we suspect that the Rosatom scientists have indeed found a way of connecting Enerhodar to the DPR and LPR electricity grids, at the very least, such that they feel comfortable now cutting the Enerhodar Dniepr Powerline Crossing without needing to turn off six nuclear reactors.
It seems to us that in order to connect Enerhodar to the Donetsk and Luhansk Peoples' Republics electricity grid systems one needs a series of cables that run Enerhodar-Melitopol-Mariupol-Donetsk. This sounds relatively easy; all these territories are under solid Russian control. Moreover part or more of the infrastructure may pre-exist as part of what we used to call the Ukrainian national grid before the country's partition. Alternatively the Russians may have been constructing and laying the cables behind our backs in Russian-occupied territory.
If the Ukrainians seek to retake Enerhodar by force, the Russians simply dynamite the lot and create the largest nuclear accident exclusion zone in history. It might well reach Zaporizhzhiya, the closest city, resolving the problem of how to seize Zaporizhzhiya from free Ukrainian forces: the city will self-depopulate under the shadow of a mushroom cloud.
Finally, ask why Russia is turning off gas supplies to Finland. The reason is not some nonsense political issue about Finland joining NATO - Turkey has already vetoed it and the NATO Treaty requires unanimity for admission of new members. Instead it is because Nordstream, a major Russian gas pipeline that could be used to prop up Ukraine and Poland indirectly in the absence of direct Russian energy supplies, runs through southern Finland. Finland is not the point. Subjugation of Ukraine (and to a lesser extent Poland) is.
There are not many good options here.
As the Russians would say, Шах. Is it Шах и мат? Only time will tell. But the west needs a damned ingenious solution soon, or we lose half of Ukraine.
So here are some options:
Use a Nimitz class US carrier strike fleet to close the straits of Bosphorous. Under Article 2 of the Montreux Convention regulating the international use of the straits of Bosphorous, it is legitimate for a nation to blockade the straits to merchant and civilian vessels during times of war.
So we cut off all Russian vessel-based hydrocarbon supplies.
The Turks will be furious with us. But really so what? They have shown their colours by vetoing NATO accession for Sweden and Finland.
Then there are a series of gas pipelines to close down.
Poland-Belarus should not be too hard, although we will have to pay the Poles to do it.
Ukraine-Slovakia should be easy. We simply instruct the Ukrainians to close it.
Moldova-Romania will involve paying the Romanians.
Then we close down the Russian oil pipelines.
Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan: the Georgians can help us with that. Again they will want paying.
Tikhoretsk to Samsun in the Eastern Mediterranean. The Israelis can help us with this.
Finally there is the Southern Druzhba pipeline from Ukraine to Slovakia and Hungary. We order the Ukrainians to close it.
At this point, don't things start to look Шах и мат in favour of the west? As soon as we have closed as many of these routes as is possible, we invite the Russians for negotiations.