CHISINAU, Moldova (AP) — Moldova temporarily experienced major power outages across the country on Tuesday after Russian military strikes on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure downed a key power line that supplies the small nation, an official said.
“Following Russia’s bombardment against the Ukrainian energy system in the last hour, one of the power lines that ensures the transport of electricity for our country has been disconnected,” Infrastructure Minister Andrei Spinu said in a statement. “This has led to massive power outages across the country.”
Spinu noted that the downed power lines “were not damaged, but were automatically disconnected as a safety measure” and later confirmed shortly after 6:30 p.m. local time (1630 GMT) that power had been restored in most areas.
“ Russian aggression against Ukraine directly affects our country,” Spinu wrote on Facebook. “The risks of power outages remain high. Any bombing by Russia against Ukrainian power plants may lead to a repeat of today’s situation.”
The power outages that hit Moldova, which isn’t a member of the European Union or NATO, occurred at 4:37 p.m. local time (1437 GMT) and affected “a large number of consumers,” according to Moldovan energy supplier Premier Energy Distribution. Local media reported that more than a half-dozen cities were affected.
Moldova’s pro-Western president, Maia Sandu, condemned Russia’s attacks in Ukraine that ultimately left “dozens of localities” in her country without light.
“They hit the civil and energy infrastructure of the neighboring country, endangering the lives and safety of tens of thousands of people,” Sandu wrote on Facebook.
“Russian attacks on Ukraine also caused the automatic disengagement of a line that provides electricity transportation for our country, and dozens of localities were left without light,” she said, adding that “specialist services are working to resolve the situation.”
Ukrainian Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko said on Facebook that the large-scale attack on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure could affect the energy systems of its neighboring countries. He noted that Tuesday’s barrage on Ukraine’s energy facilities has been “the most massive” since the start of the war.
The outages hit Moldova, a former Soviet republic sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine, as it grapples with a serious winter energy crisis, rapidly rising inflation and a series of anti-government protests. Russia, which it relies on entirely for natural gas, recently halved its supply to Moldova.
Last week, the EU pledged 250 million euros (nearly $260 million) to help Moldova — which was granted EU candidate status in June along with Ukraine — tackle the energy crisis and support its most vulnerable people.
Stephen McGrath reported from Sighisoara, Romania.
Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine