10 May 2024, 14:01
Benjamin Wehrmann

Ukraine to receive more German support for rebuilding and modernising energy infrastructure

Clean Energy Wire

Germany has vowed to support the reconstruction of war-torn Ukraine’s power grid, which has been greatly damaged by missile attacks over the past two years in the context of Russia’s invasion. At a visit to Ukraine’s capital Kyiv, Germany’s development minister Svenja Schulze said “Ukraine can only withstand this war with a functioning electricity supply,” which is why Germany would assist in reconstructing and expanding the energy infrastructure. Ahead of the planned Ukraine Recovery Conference in Berlin on 11-12 June, Schulze met with Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy and mayors from across Ukraine to officially agree further energy cooperation. “Russia has led targeted attacks on the energy infrastructure” to diminish Ukraine’s ability to act, Schulze said, adding that “Russia must not and will not succeed with that.” State-owned German development bank KfW signed a contract with Ukraine’s energy supplier Ukrenergo over 45 million euros in grants that will be used to repair the electricity infrastructure and push ahead with Ukraine’s connection to the western European power grid. The agreement builds on existing cooperations that have been running for several years and partly predate the full-scale invasion Russia launched in February 2022. The cooperation will be focused on fixing and modernising existing infrastructure but also cover training workers and engineers, as well as the funding of new infrastructure, such as onshore wind farms.

Germany is among the biggest western supporters of Ukraine in its defense against Russia’s aggression, and beyond offering military assistance has focused on providing economic and technical assistance. However, Germany has also been criticised heavily for its role in enabling Russia to carry out its invasion in the first place. This is over Berlin’s insistence on expanding energy trading with Moscow after the Russian annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014, and over Germany’s history as one of Russia’s biggest energy customers for decades despite the autocratic and belligerent tendencies displayed by Russian president Vladimir Putin, even in the years before he ordered the war on Ukraine. Germany’s government-appointed National Hydrogen Council in March said that hydrogen trade with the EU could play an important role in rebuilding the Ukrainian economy. 

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