Speaking at Power Summit 2024 in Athens, Greece, on 22 May, Maksym Timchenko, CEO of Ukraine’s largest energy provider, DTEK, said that he is “more confident than two years ago” on the country’s position, despite the recent ramp-up of Russian attacks on its energy infrastructure. 

In his speech, Timchenko expressed a mix of confidence and urgency in light of the devastation of Ukrainian energy infrastructure caused by Russian attacks. 

Reflecting on the past two years of war, the CEO acknowledged the steep learning curve the country faced in responding to the crisis. 

 “Of course, you cannot be prepared for war,” he said. “But you can learn.” 

“The irony is that I’m more confident than two years ago [when the war began] because we have learned how to face all these challenges. Even with 90% destruction of our power generation capacity, we now know how to prepare our energy systems for the next step.” 

However, Timchenko highlighted that to get to the “next step” of restoring its energy infrastructure in the aftermath of the conflict, the country will need international support. Specifically, he pointed to gaining access to decommissioned power stations in the US and other countries to salvage equipment that can be sent to Ukraine, expressing gratitude towards countries such as Lithuania, Romania, Germany and Greece for having offered this access. 

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Russian strikes on energy infrastructure, which have escalated since March, have resulted in widespread blackouts and wreaked havoc on critical power facilities. Earlier this month, Russian forces attacked multiple power plants across Ukraine, leaving at least two hydroelectric plants decommissioned and others, including the 850MW Sloviansk Thermal Power Plant, severely damaged.  

As a result, the Ukrainian Ministry of Energy last week disclosed plans to import a staggering 19,484MWh of electricity from its neighbouring countries, surpassing the previous record of 18,649MWh in March.

Maksym Timchenko said that having a clear plan, as well as confidence in the execution of the plan, is most important in responding to the crisis. Credit: Eurelectric.

Timchenko added that the destruction of power stations has not only impacted infrastructure but also disrupted the lives of those who have deep roots in impacted areas. 

He said: “The lives of people around the affected power stations just stopped. When it comes to some of these areas, generations have lived there – they have seen what was built by their grandparents get destroyed. I have to go to these people and bring them confidence that it is possible to restore their community and that their children will be able to stay.” 

Regardless, the CEO conveyed a sense of pride in Ukraine’s resilience and determination, drawing parallels to Ukrainian boxer Oleksandr Usyk’s recent triumph as the undisputed heavyweight champion. 

Timchenko said: “Usyk was smaller, shorter and much lighter [than his opponent]. But he was smart, more creative and faster. I think that symbolises Ukraine. We will keep fighting like Usyk.”