Ukraine's Zelenskiy: we survived winter, but energy risks remain

Ukraine's President Zelenskiy attends a news conference on the first anniversary of Russian invasion of Ukraine, in Kyiv

(Reuters) - Ukrainians survived the past winter thanks to government efforts to ensure energy and heat, but Russia still poses a threat to the generating system, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Wednesday.

The first day of March is traditionally marked in Ukraine -- and Russia - as the end of winter though cold weather may well continue. Russia has mounted regular waves of missile strikes on power stations in a calculated strategy to bring ordinary Ukrainians to their knees.

"Winter is over. It was a very difficult one and every Ukrainian, without exaggeration, felt the difficulties," Zelenskiy said in his nightly video message, delivered after a meeting devoted to energy issues.

"But we managed to provide Ukraine with energy and heat. The threat to the energy system remains. And work goes on to ensure the energy system keeps functioning."

Zelenskiy said officials discussed how to make the usual transition from winter to summer energy needs, adding that "we see the risks and will come up with a response."

Human rights groups say attacks on energy targets have a considerable effect on civilians and some groups say they should be investigated as war crimes. The strikes have at times knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians in their homes.

(Reporting by Ron Popeski, editing by David Ljunggren and Diane Craft)