• The Paladins

Moldova's energy crisis

On 23 November 2022 virtually all of Moldova had an electricity blackout. It lasted two hours. Moldova has seen another one recently, on 15 November 2022, of about the same length.

The reason for these blackouts is straightforward. Moldova, a former Soviet Socialist Republic of the USSR, has its energy and other infrastructure connected into that of the rest of the former USSR, not with countries to the west. And for Moldovan purposes, as the only Socialist Soviet Republic not having a border with Russia, meant connections into the Ukrainian National Grid.

The reason Moldova suffered its 23 November 2022 temporary blackout was because Russian forces had attacked and disabled the power stations in Odessa and Vinnytsia, in accordance with her current standing military policy of forcing Ukrainians to surrender over the chilling Ukrainian winters (when temperatures can get as low as -25 Celsius on a frequent basis, particularly but not only in the south of Ukraine) because if they do not surrender then they will freeze to death. Of course if they surrender, Moscow will quickly attach the surrendering regions to her own massive and virtually limitless national grid (think how much surplus hydrocarbon capacity Russia has right now).

It remains to be seen how effective this somewhat typically Russian 'overkill' policy will be in practice. Many Ukrainians will depart for NATO Europe for the winter. Others may freeze to death rather than concede Russian occupation. NATO is frantically training Ukrainian forces on how to rebuild repair and restore damaged power stations. Ultimately Russian forces may end up occupying smaller towns and villages that have not been the focus of international efforts to keep the lights on; entering those settlements more or less unopposed because everyone remaining is now a frozen corpse.

While the following graphic has manifestly been photoshopped (where is Crimea?; but even faked intelligence can have its uses), it gives an indication of the extent of the energy crisis in Ukraine and consequently the magnitude of the peril facing Ukrainian residents this winter as Moscow continues the policy of disrupting energy supplies.

To take out the power stations a distance from the front line, such as in Odessa, Vinnytsia, Kyiv and L'viv requires accurate long-range cruise missiles. Neither drones nor Krasnopol artillery systems have sufficient range. The Russian cruise missile best suited for this, the Kalibr, is frankly an excellent cruise missile - much better than anything NATO has. It flies at higher speed and more intelligently than subsonic Tomahawk cruise missiles that ground-hug. Kalibrs, with their superior inertial guidance mechanisms and vastly greater thrust, do not need to. The problem with Kalibrs is that the Russian secondary industry capacity is not sufficiently focused upon their production to replace them at the speed with which they are being used. At least that is how things seem for now.

Nevertheless Moldovans harbour a sense of panic when their electricity supply depends upon events in adjacent military theatre.

To up the pressure on Moldova, that seeks to influence the Moldovan political process to get a pro-Russian government into office, Russia has also cut gas supplies to Transnistr, the autonomous Moldovan Russian-speaking region populated by native Ukrainians. This is an act of some cynicism, given that Transnistr is supposedly Moscow's protectorate. It has turned Transnistr into a fuel-short economy just as the rest of Moldova. Nevertheless the fact is that the greater majority of Moldovan energy comes from the Cuciurgan power station in Transnistr; and therefore if one wishes to engage in energy war against Moldova one must sacrifice the wellbeing of the Transnistrians to achieve this.

There is a gas pipeline from Russia to Moldova via southern Ukraine, that passes through Transnistr, nd this is traditionally how Moldova has received its gas, even during the early months of the war in Ukraine. Here is a map:

The pivot in the system, at Grebenyky,is on fact in Ukrainian territory directly adjacent to Transnistrian territory. So all Russian gas to Moldova has to go through Grebenyky and Transnistr.

On xxx 2022 Russia reduced the amount of gas flowing along its south Ukraine pipeline by xx per cent. This was a unilateral measure, probably principally designed to apply pressure on South Ukraine to prevent people in areas of South Ukraine not under Russian control (that is to say, from the east bank of The Dniepr and eastwards) from being able to heat their buildings and thus pushing the population towards freezing to death with a presumed intention to force them to capitulate. But this necessarily had the consequence of cutting down dramatically Transnistrian and Moldovan supplies of gas. Xxxx

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