Is attacking Ukraine’s power grid a war crime


As winter approaches and temperatures drop below zero, millions of Ukrainians have been left without heat, power, or water due to Russia’s regular and broad attacks on Ukraine’s power infrastructure.

Several Ukrainian and Western authorities swiftly denounced the strikes as war crimes for the devastation they caused to civilians. Is Russia’s policy against international law, albeit strikes on electrical networks have long been an element of war?

When utilized to power military facilities, a nation’s electrical infrastructure can, with some restrictions, be deemed a lawful target.

This is accurate as long as destroying the object will “provide a definite military advantage,” regardless of whether the targets serve both military and civilian purposes.

In 1991, US forces destroyed Iraq’s energy infrastructure in a move that has drawn harsh criticism. In 1999, NATO forces also attacked Serbia’s electrical grid. The ensuing power disruptions in both situations had an impact on the general populace.

In fact, there may be circumstances in which cutting off a military complex’s power supply is preferable to physically attacking the facility with missiles or artillery.

“Would I rather risk murdering civilians as a result of the employment of kinetic weapons than temporarily cut off electricity to a portion of the civilian population? Yes, I believe it is true “Professor emeritus at the US Naval War College Michael Schmitt told the BBC.

Why there is no power for millions of Ukrainians as winter approaches
What alleged war crimes against Russia in Ukraine?
According to a statement from the defence ministry on November 18, Russia has attempted to describe its attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure as strikes against the “military command system of Ukraine and related energy facilities” even though it denies deliberately targeting people.

There are restrictions on when and how an object can be attacked, even if it is a legitimate military target.

“International humanitarian law (IHL) requires the state to select a target or a strategy that will harm civilians less. less fatalities and injuries while maintaining military advantage, “According to Dr. Maria Varaki of the King’s College War Studies department,

Attacks on military targets that result in civilian casualties or damage are not always illegal under international law. However, the proportionality principle must be followed, which states that the amount of harm done to civilians must not be disproportionate compared to the military benefit obtained. Taking “continuous care” to protect the civilian population and civilian property is another requirement for parties.

After strikes on cities in November, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine said that half of the nation’s power capacity had been destroyed and that 10 million people had lost access to electricity. By Thursday night, six million people still didn’t have access to electricity.

Prof. Schmitt claims that at a certain point, “the civilian harm is so great that you just can’t pull the trigger.”