February 3, 2023

Athens News

News in English from Greece

The ghost of a blackout looms over Europe again

In an interview with the Welt newspaper, Austrian Defense Minister Claudia Tanner speaks of an increased risk of massive power outages in Austria and parts of EU in connection with the Russian war in Ukraine.

Her estimates are based on data from experts from the Austrian Armed Forces, and, according to her, the right question is not “whether there will be blackouts, but when.” “For Putin, cyberattacks by hackers on power grids are part of a hybrid war. We must not pretend that these are only theories. We must prepare in Austria and the EU for a blackout,” says Tanner characteristically.

How Austria prepares for potential blackouts

Tanner spoke at length to Welt about the Austrian government and military’s plan in the event of a power outage due to cyberattacks, noting that preparations began in 2020. “Police, firefighters, civil protection units and the military regularly conduct joint exercises, often with the participation of municipalities and schools. We also distribute leaflets in public places called “Blackout – so what?”, We advise citizens on how to behave in the event of a power outage, as well as how to acquire and store essentials on time,” explains Claudia Tanner. “Did you know that on the fourth day of the blackout, a third of the population would not be able to take care of themselves?”

Austrian Defense Minister Claudia Tanner

However, the training of the Austrian Armed Forces is also of interest. According to Tanner, the goal is to invest about 180 million euros by 2025 in the expansion of 100 “autonomous barracks” that will have energy autonomy and can operate without external energy sources for two weeks. In addition, 12 Austrian camps are already being prepared as “security islands” in order to be able to receive – in case of a crisis – representatives of the security forces, as well as volunteers.

“War of attrition in Ukraine” with an undecided winner
The Austrian Defense Minister describes the war in Ukraine as “a war of attrition being waged with great intensity and heavy losses on both sides.” In fact, in her assessment, the fighting in the winter is likely to be reduced in order for both Ukraine and Russia to prepare “for new attacks in the spring.” She believes that “without the support of the West, Ukraine would have been lost”, and elsewhere notes that, despite the victories recorded by the Ukrainian army, “it is unclear whether there will ever be a winner in this war.”

With regard to recent scenarios regarding the behind-the-scenes processes of possible negotiations that could end the war, Claudia Tanner writes in Welt: “It is important that negotiations are taking place in the background, and the burden of responsibility is increasingly falling on diplomacy. Of course, there is also the opinion of some EU states that Ukraine, as a sovereign state, should decide for itself when to negotiate and for what purpose. Of course, another way to look at it is that the West, which has been supporting Ukraine for months with arms and billions of aid, should work with Kyiv to determine what the limits of this war are and when it makes sense to start…negotiations in the proper form.”

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