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Ukraine desperate for Australian coal to avoid Russia-induced blackouts


Asked on Sky News Australia whether Australia would send a shipment, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said: “We give appropriate consideration to all requests, we do that in a way that is diplomatic and gives proper consideration to it.“

“We have been very clear, with measures of economic support, with the training just last week, a range of Australian soldiers headed to the United Kingdom to do further training of the Ukrainians in order to assist the war effort they’re engaged in,” he said.

Russia has targeted Ukrainian energy infrastructure. Kakhovka dam, in southern Ukraine, was destroyed last year.

Russia has targeted Ukrainian energy infrastructure. Kakhovka dam, in southern Ukraine, was destroyed last year.Credit: Planet Labs PBC/AP

“We will continue to engage in a mature, considered way with Ukraine. And we stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes.”

Galushchenko said that from April, the country’s nuclear power plants – which now produce more than 55 per cent of its electricity – would need urgent repair works and this energy supply would need to be replaced by coal-fired plants.

Most of Ukraine’s large coal mines are in the east of the country, near the Russian border and the separatist regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, where the bulk of the fighting over almost two years of conflict has been.

Some areas have had access to electricity, heating and the internet for only a few hours a day, while hospitals, businesses and households have had to turn to expensive diesel generators. The World Bank recently estimated that Ukraine’s energy sector has sustained US$12 billion ($18 billion) in damage during the war.

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Galushchenko said Ukraine had invested heavily in preparing for this difficult winter, spending substantially on repair, reconstruction and defence. But he said Russian troops and drone strikes had even targeted maintenance crews who had been dispatched to replace damaged transformers, transmission lines and interconnectors after areas were plunged into darkness for days on end.

He said at times about 30 per cent of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure had been attacked in a single day as Russia used missiles and drones to target energy facilities and left no thermal or hydropower plant untouched.

Before the war, the Ukrainian government had planned to reduce the country’s reliance on coal-fired power stations and to increase nuclear energy and natural gas production.

Ukraine depends on imports for about 83 per cent of its crude oil consumption, 33 per cent of its natural gas and 50 per cent of its coal, according to the most recent data from the International Energy Agency.

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So far, it has sourced additional supplies from several coal-rich countries such as the United States, Colombia, Australia and Kazakhstan, along with other suppliers.

Galushchenko said despite good planning, Ukraine’s energy resilience was still “a day-to-day issue” and could drastically change if Vladimir Putin’s attacks became more sophisticated and targeted or there was a long-lasting cold snap.



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