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May 8, 2022
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Anton Gerashchenko: “We will carry shells on oxen. But let’s kick the Muscovites out of Ukraine”

Anton Gerashchenko: “We will carry shells on oxen.  But let's kick the Muscovites out of Ukraine

Photo: Yuri Ilyenko/TASS

As you know, the Russian military has by now destroyed every single oil refinery in Ukraine with missile strikes. This country is now unable to produce a drop of its own gasoline, not a drop of diesel fuel. In order for it to be able to function at least somehow, and its army to fight, it is necessary to import fuel from the West. But what? And How?

Recently, even such delivery Kyiv has been forced to carry out simply extraordinary methods. Not as before – in railway tanks, each with a capacity of up to 35 tons of gasoline. No, only road transport was forced into use, capable of transporting fuel many times less than trains across the country.

Ukraine and its allies are trying to speed up the process by methods hitherto unheard of. According to the Deputy Minister of Infrastructure of this country Mustafa Nayemaby agreement with the allies, all permits for international transportation and the crossing of the western border by Ukrainian fuel trucks both in one direction and in the other direction have already been canceled. And at the same time, the drivers of “fillers” from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Denmark, Italy, Greece, Hungary, Bulgaria, and the Czech Republic are endowed with the same rights. The slightest interruption in work in this multi-tribal line threatens to bring Ukrainian tanks and armored personnel carriers to a complete halt at the front.

But why not trains? After all, our missiles on all the highways of Ukraine almost did not affect either the rails or the stations themselves. With a few exceptions, almost all the railway bridges in this country are also intact. It is mainly the electrical facilities of the Ukrainian Railways company that are purposefully put out of action. Basically – traction substations and transformers, automation and a contact network, without which everything is tightly and permanently de-energized here.

It would seem – so what? After all, diesel locomotives have long been invented, for which the current in the wires is absolutely useless. At worst, there are old steam locomotives from mobilization reserves, which, in theory, every country must have for every firefighter. But in Ukraine, there is a complete collapse of rail transportation. Because there are almost no good old steam locomotives, or even diesel locomotives, at the disposal of Kyiv.

Oddly enough, here we are dealing with a clear paradox: Ukraine’s huge competitive advantages in this area, inherited from the USSR, turned into an unheard-of disaster for it with the outbreak of hostilities.

According to open data, the length of the main route of Ukraine is 19.787 kilometers. Of these, as of 2019, more than half were electrified – 9.926 kilometers. By the way, the most developed countries of Europe have the same indicators in this regard. Since electric traction on railways is everywhere one and a half to two times cheaper than diesel locomotive. That is why electric locomotives in peacetime in Ukraine transported up to 80 percent of cargo.

The locomotive fleet of Ukraine has also developed accordingly. It was believed that before the start of our special operation, there were about 1.9 thousand locomotives in operation there. But of these, there are only 301 main diesel locomotives that do not need a contact network. In other words, five times less than electric locomotives.

But why was it “considered”? Yes, because it is unlikely that even the highest authorities of Ukrzaliznytsia even at that time knew thoroughly: how many and which Ukrainian locomotives were able to pull wagons, platforms or fuel tanks on any given day. Simply because almost all local electric locomotives and diesel locomotives have in fact turned into outright scrap metal for a long time.

Back in October 2020, the chairman of the board of the Ukrainian state railway company Ukrzaliznytsia frankly stated this to the deputies of the Verkhovna Rada Vladimir Zhmak. According to him, even then his company was “completely destroyed.” And 95 percent of the cash locomotives on the company’s balance sheet were listed solely for pro forma. Because in fact they were unfit for work.

As for the mainline diesel locomotives, which seem to be saving for Ukraine today, two years ago, according to Zhmak, only 202 of them were in operation, as it were. And in endless repairs and maintenance 393.

Since then, and even under the endless missile strikes, the situation on the railways for Kyiv has definitely not improved. Rather, on the contrary. This is despite the fact that in 2018 the Ukrainian authorities agreed with the Americans on the urgent purchase of 30 new diesel locomotives manufactured by General Electric. Produced, however, in Kazakhstan under a license from the US GE at the plant of JSC Lokomotiv kurastyru zauyty. But Kyiv immediately pathetically renamed “Trident”.

At the same time, as usual in Ukraine, there was a corruption scandal. Because each such car cost Ukrzaliznytsia $4.7 million. And neighboring Moldova, which also bought exactly the same locomotives in the same place in the amount of 12 pieces – for some reason “only” 4.2 million. India forked out even more modestly for the same products a little earlier – 2.5 million each for an analogue of the Ukrainian Trident.

Anyway. Although I suggest remembering about 12 “Moldovan” diesel locomotives. It will come in handy in further discussions.

So, it is very likely that the Ukrainian Tridents, mainly developed by the Americans and manufactured by Kazakhstan, are now only able to drag at least something along de-energized railways from their western border to the central or eastern regions of Ukraine. Unless, of course, on this path they do not fall under the “Caliber” or “Iskander. And the possibilities of replenishing the locomotive fleet near Kyiv are very limited.

It’s all about the rail gauge standard, inherited by the Ukrainians not even from the USSR, but also from Tsarist Russia. In Ukraine, as in the entire post-Soviet space, the width of the space between the rails is 1524 mm everywhere. And in the European Union – 1435 mm. That is why Kyiv cannot expect help from the West in such a matter. It is possible to rearrange wagons and platforms to new carts at the border. Although long and troublesome. Electric locomotives and diesel locomotives – no way.

It would seem that we can again turn to Kazakhstan, which has long put the production of former American diesel locomotives on stream, moreover, for a completely post-Soviet gauge. So even if Astana would have reacted favorably to such a request, how would those candidates for Tridents be delivered to Ukraine? All seaports are blocked or occupied by Russian troops.

I suspect that together with Washington, Kyiv will try to put pressure on the Moldovans. The goal is to select, buy, accept as a gift (and at least confiscate!) the very 12 diesel locomotives manufactured by the plant of JSC Lokomotiv Kurastyru Zauyty according to American patterns. This cannot solve the problems with rail transit. But at least some relief.

In general, the standard for the construction of domestic railways for today’s Ukraine, conceived and introduced by the Russian tsar a long time ago, turned into a genuine ancestral curse. Which threatens to turn into a military defeat.

And what do they think about the actual paralysis of their railways in Kyiv today? There, as usual, they roll their eyes ferociously. And pour terrible curses on Moscow.

Like, for example, a well-known fighter against the “Russian world”, the former deputy head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Anton Gerashchenko. The other day he statedfrank obscenity of the former official forced to skip):The goal of the Russians … is to destroy the electric traction on the highways connecting the EU with Central Ukraine in order to reduce the throughput for the transport of fuel, food and weapons. But nothing will come of them! There will be no electric traction, we will take it on diesel locomotives or trucks. As a last resort, as in those days when the Cossacks beat the Muscovites – we will carry shells on oxen, but we will throw them out of Ukraine (these bad people – “SP”)”.

If we discard the verbal husk of the ex-minister about Muscovites and Cossacks that they were once beaten, in fact everything is correct. Just on the oxen you will soon carry the gifts of the West, pan Gerashchenko! Will you stand up as drivers yourself? Or will you remain in anguish and sadness wandering along Khreshchatyk?

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