Energoatom, the Ukrainian state-run energy company, has carried out pre-winter maintenance on three of nine nuclear reactors at two of its nuclear power plants (NPPs).

After Russian missile attacks destroyed most of its thermal power plants and at least two hydropower stations, Ukraine now relies mainly on three NPPs for electricity.

Its fourth nuclear plant, Zaporizhzhia, has been occupied by Russian forces since Moscow’s invasion of the country in 2022.

According to Reuters, Energoatom is carrying out maintenance on power units at the Rivne NPP in southern Ukraine and the Khmelnystskyi NPP nearby.

Maintenance is due to start on another unit in the coming days.

At the beginning of June, Russia launched its most extensive missile and drone attack, lasting more than three weeks and further damaging Ukraine’s energy infrastructure. As a result, Ukraine has increased large-scale energy imports from other European countries to replace lost supply.

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Speaking after the most recent drone attacks, the Ukrainian Air Force said on its Telegram channel: “Russian terrorists do not abandon their intentions to destroy the fuel and energy sector of the state. The Air Force and the Defence Forces of Ukraine are doing everything possible to prevent the enemy from achieving its goals on every part of the front.”

Power grid operator Ukrenergo said imports could total 27,671 megawatt-hours (MWh) on Thursday, slightly less than the record high of 29,796MWh imported on Wednesday.

Ukrenergo continued to restrict power supplies to consumers on Thursday evening.

The maintenance of the nuclear units could enhance the severity of the blackouts.

Energoatom said: “In the next days, Energoatom will take out another 1,000MW unit for repair. Taking this into account, as well as considering the increase in electricity consumption in July, the generation deficit in the power system may increase.”

The company is taking advantage of the longer summer daylight hours to avoid causing energy shortages in autumn.

Last week, Energoatom signed an agreement with French company EDF to cooperate on nuclear projects, in the hope of ensuring the supply of nuclear fuel for Soviet-era water-water energetic reactors for countries wanting to move away from Russian supply.