Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s President, has vowed to stamp out fuel shortages caused by Russian forces destroying depots and petrol stations.
The situation has left Ukrainians facing long queues and rising prices to refuel their vehicles, especially as many who were displaced during the first weeks of the war attempt to return home now that Russia’s military campaign has shifted away from Kyiv.
Crucially, it is also making it harder to transport food and other aid around the country to alleviate the humanitarian situation.
The dwindling supplies could also impact military efforts – officials in Kyiv have urged people to use public transport wherever possible in order to save fuel for the army.
Russia has been targeting key infrastructure, this week striking Ukraine’s main fuel producer, the Kremenchuk oil refinery, as well as several other large depots. It comes after Russian officials accused Ukraine of attacking an oil depot across the border in the Russian city of Belgorod in April.
Most garages across Ukraine now have only limited fuel, with supplies in western areas remaining plentiful while supplies in Kyiv and the east are patchy.
Many forecourts are shut
Some regional authorities have limited motorists to buying only 20 or 30 litres at a time, which is less than half a tank.
A large proportion of petrol forecourts are shut, while others sell only one type of petrol or diesel. Often, fuel is only on sale to motorists with particular IDs, such as emergency workers.
Most drivers are now in the habit of scanning every petrol station sign they pass to see if fuel is available, with long queues forming in areas where supplies are tight. In the east, where many people are fleeing the renewed Russian offensive, fights sometimes break out when motorists try to queue-jump.
Mr Zelensky acknowledged the problem in a nightly video speech on Friday.
“Queues and rising prices at gas stations are seen in many regions of our country. The occupiers are deliberately destroying the infrastructure for the production, supply and storage of fuel,” he said.
“Russia has also blocked our ports, so there are no immediate solutions to replenish the deficit,” he added. Russia has been blockading Ukraine’s Black Sea coast since mid-March, effectively isolating the country from international maritime trade and meaning supplies cannot be brought in by tanker.
But Mr Zelensky continued, “government officials promise that within a week, maximum two, a system of fuel supply to Ukraine will be at work that will prevent shortages.”
Yulia Svyrydenko, the economy minister, said that Ukraine’s operators had secured contracts with European suppliers to alleviate the shortage, but did not explain how supplies would be brought into the country.