Ukraine War Day #325: What’s Up With Ukrainian Electrons?

Dear Readers:

Despite previous (vague) promises to do a piece on the recent Russian army shake-up, I have wisely decided not to engage on that topic. Not having much value to offer, frankly. In the last couple days I read and listened to all the usual pro-Russian analysts like Larry Johnson, Alexander Mercouris, etc., I feel these pundits have a very good handle on what is going on in Russian HQ: It’s a combination of factors, like (1) Russia gearing up for a REEEELLLLY BIG war against NATO; combined with (2) the usual Office Politics that is so typical of the Russian army during wartime. Every Russian ruler since Peter the Great (and even earlier) has had to figure out how to juggle these massive military egos, and frankly I don’t envy Putin’s job in that regard. To give a little smack on the nose to Surovikin just a few days after pinning a medal on the big guy’s chest? To bring Prigozhin down a notch on the very day the mercenary leader finished cleaning up Soledar? That takes a certain degree of coldness, but I reckon that’s what a top manager has to do. Especially a Russian manager. Like they used to say about Stalin: “He was cruel, but he was fair.” Oh well, at least Putin don’t toss these top generals into the dungeon and pull out their fingernails, like Stalin used to do.

“Now I’m in charge!”

Actually, one of the best analyses I heard came from the enemy camp, none other than our good friend Alexei Arestovich, in a recent nightly youtube show with the odious Mark Feigin. Alexei, who has a keen understanding of Russian history and politics, offered the following theory as to what transpired: The Big Boys (Shoigu, Gerasimov) went running to Putin in complete exasperation: “What the f* is going on with this Makhnovshchina? You let Prigozhin take all the credit for Soledar, you allow Kadyrov to slander one of our finest generals… Sir, this shall not hold!” And Putin, having listened to their plaints, said unto them: “I hear you, and I will make some adjustments.” Well, that’s Alexei’s theory, and it’s as good as anyone’s. Plus, remember the REEEELLLY BIG thing too, the thing that is coming, because that’s about to happen, my spidey senses tell me… We’re talking WWIII.

And that’s all I have to say about that. In the words of the immortal thief Ostap Bender:

Командовать парадом буду я!

Next I want to switch gears and return to the topic of Ukrainian electrons. Those are the tiny particles of matter that carry little blue-yellow flags on their back and keep ordinary Ukrainians warm at night. A few days ago I saw this piece, and I have been holding it back for a rainy day. Which today actually is, in my part of the world. The author is the same as the editor, Olga Sova, whose name means “Olga the Owl”. Which is apropos, because owls have very sharp eyesight, so I am told. They can see at night, so they don’t need electricity.

Cossack Ataman Alexei Selivanov

Once upon a time there was a man named Alexei Selivanov, who is the source of the information in this interview with Olga the Owl.

Selivanov was born in 1980, in Kiev. In 2004 he was elected Ataman of the Union of Loyal Cossacks in Kiev. He worked in the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense under Pavel Lebedev (2012-2014). Selivanov founded several Cossack paramilitaries with an educational/religious slant (educating the youth, etc.) and also a pro-Russian ideological slant. Selivanov wanted nothing to do with Ukrainian Orange or Maidan.

Selivanov, after his violent beating.

After the Maidan coup, Selivanov became a target of violent extremists. He was attacked and severely beaten by a gang of Ukrainian Nationalist thugs, receiving a nasty concussion. He went over to the side of the Donbass Separatists and has been fighting alongside them, ever since. He is mostly associated with the Luhansk Peoples Republic, where he continues to engage in his Cossack educational and religious activities. Selivanov’s ideological foundation is Russian patriotism, his belief that Russians and Ukrainians are a single people, with a single history and mentality: “As we know, there was never any separate Ukrainian state, historically speaking. Rus’ was Rus’, which was a generalized Russian state formation, ruled by the Rurik dynasty. The Zaporozhian forces and the Hetmanite never possessed their own sovereignty, they were a component of the Polish Rzeczpospolita. But just for a time, and then they returned to Russia.”

So, that is a quick biography of Selivanov, and now we come to hear his opinions on the electricity situation in Ukraine. The context is the recent Russian air strikes that took out most of the Ukrainian electrical grid. These strikes are said to be the brain-child of General Surovikin.

Selivanov: The entire energy system of Ukraine was built by the USSR. Kiev will not be able to fix the damage, and the European equipment is not suitable. The Ukrainians have nobody to turn to, when it comes to fixing or rebuilding their electrical system. This entire system was built by the USSR. The USSR no longer exists, therefore Kiev cannot restore it, and the European transformers are not suitable.

“We tried to warn the Ukrainians: With this de-communization, you are digging the ground out from under your own feet. The ban on the Russian language, removing the statues of Catherine the Great, Pushkin and Lomonosov, you think that is the de-communization? No, you’ll see what actual de-communization looks like: the destruction of industry and the energy system that was built under the USSR. General Surovikin is your main de-communizer.”

Kudritsky: We’re running out of spare parts.

Selivanov’s emotional words are backed up by a more pragmatic comment made by Vladimir Kudritsky (head of Ukrainian energy company Ukr-Energo, in an interview to the Financial Times: “The main part of Ukraine energy network still uses the old Soviet system. It works at a higher voltage than the European system, which is what makes it incompatible with most of the Western equipment.”

Ukraine is experiencing a major deficit in 750 kiloVolt transfomers, each of which weighs around 200 tons. According to Kudritsky, Ukraine has already run out of spare parts, so that once the Russians started deliberately destroying these transformers, it is not going to be possible to repair them.

yalensis: That’s it for the article. It paints a very bleak picture of Ukraine’s energy future. The only thing I can see that is going to help: Once the war is over, Russia is going to have to rebuild Ukraine’s energy system itself. Since the Europeans don’t have the right stuff to do this; and it looks like Russia (maybe with China’s help) will be the only country that will have any money or spare parts to get the job done. My recommendation: As soon as the war is over, Russia and China (and other “countries of the willing”) should set up an investment fund to rebuild Ukrainian infrastructure, housing, and industry. They will probably need a trillion dollars, or maybe even more.

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28 Responses to Ukraine War Day #325: What’s Up With Ukrainian Electrons?

  1. Liborio Guaso says:

    Zelensky’s western godfathers should be willing to give away entire power plants to Ukrainian soil because that should cost them much less than the weapons they send to kill civilians in the Dombass.
    In addition, they must remove from Ukraine the old and obsolete Soviet technology as an aid to the much loved Ukrainian people. And only after that build monuments to glorify the Slavic Churchill Zelensky in Western capitals.


  2. michaeldroy says:

    Very few Ukrainians will be going back after the war – they will all seek work in Europe or Russia. It was a mess before, and i can’t see it getting better.
    Germany will not be paying Hungary and Poland to rebuild even parts of it in their own image. Meanwhile everyone wants white immigrants to do the jobs that African immigrants do at pay levels much lower than white unionised labour was getting in the 1980s. The elderly stay at homes will freeze this winter or next, certainly not helped by non-existent health services.

    As a commentator on Larry’s Sonar21 blog said about one of the first American mercenaries to die :
    “Unlike the Ukrainians, he (the American) died defending the interests of his country.”

    Land that is not overly mined will get ploughed for grain by foreign investors (western or Russian, depending on area and outcomes) using contract labour. Perhaps Ukrainians returning on 1 month contracts but living abroad. Everyone will have their own generator or freeze.
    That is about it. The wasteland that the US wanted is assured.


  3. Steve says:

    “My recommendation: As soon as the war is over, Russia and China (and other “countries of the willing”) should set up an investment fund to rebuild Ukrainian infrastructure, housing, and industry. They will probably need a trillion dollars, or maybe even more.”

    Why? I mean why should Russia and China rebuild Ukraine after the war?


    • WJ says:

      Because Russia will probably have to annex most of it to keep the Biden Regime from starting more trouble there.

      Liked by 2 people

      • yalensis says:

        Yup. And these borderlands will always be Russia’s neighbor. Think about it: You wouldn’t want to live in a beautiful home where your next-door neighbor lives in a crime-ridden hovel. It makes the property values go down. It’s better when all the houses look nice.


        • pugbuddy says:

          More than that, rebuilding Ukraine will be an investment for Russia. It’s not useless land and Russia thinks long-term in these matters. It may take 10+ years to do it right but it will happen.

          Additionally, Putin has stated many times he doesn’t want to destroy Ukraine, he wants to destroy the Western backed Nazi leadership and demilitarize Ukraine. Once that is done, he will do a great deal to assist the people living there.


    • peter moritz says:

      Because it is a business opportunity.
      Ukraine still has a lot of resources,


  4. Beluga says:

    Hey, nice to see you come out swinging! It is a-rainin’ here too, and has been for over 36 hours, and no, it’s not Californ-I-A. Now a day and a half of freezing drizzle comes next followed by a further 36 hours of rain. Never seen a “winter” like it, as in so far it hasn’t been.

    Hope you’re wrong about WWIII. You are wrong about the blowed-up transformers, they’re 750 kiloVolt rating apparently, not 750 kiloVoltAmps (watts sort of). The VoltAmp rating is the size of the load a transfomer can handle — the voltage rating is how much voltage it can withstand without sparking to ground internally (cheap and simple explanation)

    Now, 750kVA load capacity sized transformers are mere titches suitable for a village of 500 to a thousand folk with underground wiring on a single phase. They’d be much lower voltage, typically 69kV primary. These really big Ukrainian transformers in question at a weight of 200 tons are likely 1,000 MVA capacity or more each, and rated to withstand 750 kV. Once a transformer loses its insulating oil by fire, leak or blast, the high voltage immediately ruins the inter-coil layer static paper insulation, and it’s time to call the scrapyard to collect the melted copper windings. She be done. Completely. No repair possible.

    I don’t see anything special about these very high voltage and large capacity transformers that any competent Western manufacturer couldn’t easily duplicate given time. New York Power Authority has a 765 kV transmission line, for example – my Live Line Specialist I used to rent out to them for maintenance and crew instruction back in the ’80s as he was originally a US citizen. However, the industry changeover has been to 800 kV DC transmission lines since those days for really big projects.

    The lead time for manufacturing 750/765 kV transformers would, however, be years. These things are planned for years in advance as more transmission networks and power plants are steadily added to a system, and a little matter of some specific Russian voltage rating doesn’t make them unmanufacturable in the West at all. It just takes a lot of lead time no matter who is going to make them — lots of planning no matter what. And transporting them is not easy if you don’t want to jostle the innards, which you certainly don’t. That Ukrainian transformer company with the unpronounceable name that recently went out of business during the early SMO, but was Europe’s largest transformer factory before that, probably made the originals. Tough titty for the Ukies, I guess. Back to the stone age for quite some time. That lead time problem could well affect how much of Ukraine Russia actually wants to conquer, er, denazify.

    As for the possibly squabbling RF generals, sounds a bit like the Montgomery vs Patton competition in WWII in Western Europe. Big egos clash, and Ike got quite annoyed with them. On topwar,ru, old Russian vets do not seem to like Wagner and its boasting boss. But they don’t seem in favour of anything else either. Kind of a dour unhappy bunch all around.


    • yalensis says:

      Oh, sorry about my mistranslation of volts vs watts. And thanks for your technical expertise in electrical engineering, and your explanation of how these transformers work. That’s actually good news for Ukraine, if Selivanov turns out to be wrong and “any company” can rebuild a good transformer.
      So, once they start to rebuild the infrastructure, maybe they can just place bids; but it all has to be carefully coordinated so that they rebuild a single system.


      • Beluga says:

        I think you misunderstood — not rebuilt. But built brand new from scratch — they would be replacements. Many manufacturers could do that, given time. The old ones are toast and not serviceable for rebuilding if they caught fire and burnt up. They are toast, mere scrap. Salvageability was not in the original design remit — the performance and losses would be horrendous if they did that due to compronises.

        In normal service, they’re overbuilt to last, and the oil and temps are constantly monitored. The oil gets changed. Periodic testing is performed. Nobody would have more than a couple of spares, one for each end of the line to switch in during the servicing of another. So we’re talking the fundamental reduction of Ukraine to third world status already for years while new transformers get built. And the circuit breakers that protect them, also presumably destroyed. ways

        I can think of some semi–quick sub-optimal ways to makeshift the system with lower voltage more availablr gear, but the power transfer capability rating goes down dramatically as that happens. There are risks involved there and it would still take a lot of time. Nobody would likely bother if the ultimate intent is to “replace” what was there.


        • yalensis says:

          Oh, okay, thanks, Beluga, I think I get it. That’s very depressing, I don’t like to think of people having to live in such primitive conditions for years at a time, while everything is being rebuilt. Maybe engineers can think of a way to speed up the process of rebuilding infrastructure from scratch.
          While they are busy rebuilding the grid, maybe working people can be housed in “tiny houses” with generators so their lives are bearable in the meantime.


    • Daniel Rich says:

      @ Beluga,

      Thanks for your explanation. I know next to nothing about these things, so your story was very educational. Thanks for your time and effort. ON this end very much appreciated.


      • yalensis says:

        I corrected my post to read kiloVolt instead of kiloWatt.
        Not understanding electricity as much as I should, and also the Russian is ambiguous, because Russian doesn’t have a letter for “W”, so it’s just the letter “V”. Well, that’s my excuse.


  5. jrkrideau says:

    Well, once the city of Zaporizhzhia falls into Russian hands, the Zaporozhtransformator Company can reopen and start replacing those transformers. Assuming the Kiev régime tas not sold all the machinery as scrap metal.


  6. S Brennan says:

    “Plus, remember the REEEELLLY BIG thing too, the thing that is coming, because that’s about to happen, my spidey senses tell me… We’re talking WWIII”
    Biden’s existential angst in Ukraine – M. K. BHADRAKUMAR

    Y, I believe you have company…over at Indian-Punchline blog, a great blog BTW, the proprietor describes DC/Biden’s point of view concerning the view that war in Ukrainia is existential nature.

    As always, DC is delusional. In reality, Ukrainia is worthless to the US in any other role other than that of pawn. Still, a pawn can, in the right circumstances take a queen, however, only a delusional person would think to subsume a great empire with a such a wobbly pawn as Ukrainia. Regardless of the reality, DC’s delusions are to be involuntarily forced upon the globe in the same manner Jim Jones served Kool-Aid…the only difference being Mr Jones proved far more judicious in application.


    • yalensis says:

      This is my biggest fear, S. If I were an American imperialist, I would have walked away from this one a long time ago, while humming Kenny Rogers under my breath: “Know when to hold ’em…” Because, even if I were a blatant imperialist tool, I would still never be a gambler. Not in my nature.

      Unfortunately, the DC rulers have gone completely mad, it looks like they are going to double down and just continue to throw good money after bad. Like Pushkin’s character, Herman, they think they will eventually find the trio of winning cards.


      • S Brennan says:

        Thanks Y,

        Concur…not much “little people” can do at this point, although a minority in the USA, the 3LA/D/R’s power structure is unassailable at present…kinda like when Stalin was in power..yeah, that bad.

        BTW, did you notice Putin’s stance in the photo of cited article? If I were to put a title to the photo it would be “don’t make me do this but..I will..if it comes to that”.


        • yalensis says:

          Yeah, I saw that, and it seemed an odd stance to take in a church. Usually when he is going to church, Putin is surrounded by other worshippers. In this photo he is all alone and has kind of a gangster stance.


    • peter moritz says:

      They are useless against the US. Biden wants to outlaw gas stoves. Which demonstrates that the Russians are outsmarted by an idiot, again.


      • peter moritz says:

        As to the last point, I cannot understand why President Putin plays the fool
        by “admitting” he was outsmarted by the Merkel and Hollande ilk of
        If the Russians really did not know that NATO, represented by those two, had no interest in fulfilling the conditions of the Minsk accords, then for chrissake, they deserve their butts kicked.
        But apparently, they were not clueless, after all, they used the time to get their military upgraded, with sufficient ammo and weaponry.
        Then why? Maybe it was clear to Russia they needed that war because ever since the breach of promises by NATO showed you cannot trust anything NATO, i.e. the USA, says or agrees upon. So the conditions demanded a settlement by force, no other option could achieve the desired result of disengaging NATO from Ukraine, and the threat is posed.

        But of course, to admit this is impossible for political reasons, so they had to keep up the illusion they were utterly surprised throughout 7 years or so of a constant state of surprise, while doing what NATO did in Ukraine, arming to the hilt.
        However, I still do not understand how the situation right at the beginning of the SMO could be misjudged so badly, to believe that any negotiation with Ukraine could have been successful. Should it not have been clear after analysis of the NATO intentions, that it would never permit a settlement, as long as the Ukrainian army still possessed its forces almost complete?


  7. Kaizer Hans says:

    I do not think Russia would be able to invest or send men in Ukraine for 10 years after the end of the war.

    so your commendation will not be put in action…


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