Kyiv, Ukraine (AP) — Residents of Ukraine’s bombed-out capital clutched empty bottles for water and crowded coffee shops for power and heat Thursday, defiantly shifting into survival mode after fresh Russian missile strikes hit the city and much of the city a day earlier. countries. into the dark.
In scenes hard to believe in the struggling city of 3 million, some Kiev residents resorted to collecting rainwater from sewer pipes as repair crews worked to restore supplies.
Friends and family members exchanged messages to see who had power and water back on. Some had one and not the other. The air attack on the energy system of Ukraine the day before left no one behind.
Kiev cafes, which by some small miracle quickly turned into oases of comfort on Thursday.
Aleksei Rashchupkin, a 39-year-old investment banker, woke up to find that the water in his third-floor apartment had been turned on, but the electricity had not. His freezer defrosted when it was turned off, leaving a puddle on the floor.
So he got into a taxi and crossed the Dnieper from the left bank to the right to a cafe that he noticed had remained open since previous Russian strikes. Of course, there were hot drinks, hot food, music and Wi-Fi.
“I’m here because there’s heat, coffee and light,” he said. “That’s life.”
Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko said that about 70% of the Ukrainian capital was still without electricity on Thursday morning.
While Kyiv and other cities braced themselves, Kherson on Thursday came under the heaviest bombardment since Ukrainian forces retook the southern city two weeks ago. A barrage of rockets killed four people near a coffee shop, and a woman was also killed near her home, witnesses told The Associated Press.
In Kiev, where cold rain fell on the remnants of previous snowfalls, the mood was gloomy, but steely. Winter promises to be long. But Ukrainians say that if Russian President Vladimir Putin intends to break them, he should think again.
“No one will surrender their will and principles just for the sake of electricity,” says 34-year-old Alina Dubeyka. She also sought comfort in another, equally crowded, warm and well-lit cafe. There was no electricity, heating and water at home, she decided to continue her work schedule. Adapting to a life devoid of the usual comforts, Dubeyka says she washes herself with two glasses of water, then puts her hair in a ponytail and is ready for the day’s work.
She said it would be better to be out of power than live with the Russian invasion, which on Thursday passed the nine-month mark.
“No light or you? Without you,” she said, echoing President Volodymyr Zelensky’s remarks when Russia launched the first of a series of airstrikes on key Ukrainian infrastructure on October 10.
Western leaders condemned the bombing. “Strikes against civilian infrastructure are war crimes,” tweeted French President Emmanuel Macron.
The official representative of the Ministry of Defense of Russia Igor Konashenkov admitted on Thursday that the target was Ukrainian energy facilities. But he said they were linked to Ukraine’s military command and control system and that their aim was to disrupt the flow of Ukrainian troops, weapons and ammunition to the front line. The authorities of Kyiv and the Kyiv region as a whole reported 7 dead and dozens of wounded.
Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vasyl Nebenzia, said: “We are striking infrastructure in response to the unbridled flow of weapons to Ukraine and reckless calls by Kiev to defeat Russia.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also tried to shift the blame for the hardships of the civilian population onto the Ukrainian government.
“The leadership of Ukraine has every opportunity to normalize the situation, it has every opportunity to settle the situation in such a way as to satisfy the demands of the Russian side and, accordingly, to stop all possible suffering of the civilian population,” said Piaskov. .
In Kyiv, people queued up at public water supply points to fill plastic bottles. In the strange wartime that was new to her, 31-year-old employee of the Health Department, Kateryna Luchkina, turned to collecting rainwater from the gutter to at least wash her hands at work, where there was no water. She filled two plastic bottles, patiently waiting in the rain until they filled to the brim. A colleague followed her, doing the same.
“We, Ukrainians, are so resourceful, we will come up with something. We do not give up,” Luchkina said. “We work, we live in the rhythm of survival or whatever, as much as possible. We do not lose hope that everything will be fine.”
The mayor of the city said in Telegram that the energy companies are “doing everything possible” to restore electricity. The water repair crews also had time. In the first half of the day, Klitschko announced the restoration of water supply throughout the capital, with the caveat that “some consumers may still have low water pressure.”
Power, heat and water gradually returned in other places as well. In the southeastern Dnipropetrovsk region of Ukraine, the governor announced that 3,000 miners who were trapped underground due to a power outage had been rescued. Regional authorities posted messages on social media informing people about the progress of repairs, but also said they needed time.
Mindful of the difficulties – both now and ahead as winter approaches – authorities are opening thousands of so-called “points of invincibility” – heated and electric spaces that offer hot meals, electricity and internet. On Thursday morning, more than 3,700 were opened across the country, according to a high-ranking official of the presidential administration, Kirill Tymoshenko.
In Kherson, hospitals without electricity and water are also struggling with the terrible consequences of increasing Russian strikes. They struck residential and commercial buildings on Thursday, setting some on fire, sending ash into the sky and shattering glass on the streets. Medical workers helped the injured.
Alena Zhura was carrying bread to her neighbors when her husband Viktor was injured as a result of the blow that destroyed half of the house. He writhed in pain as the medics carried him out.
“I was shocked,” she said, fighting back tears. “Then I heard (him) shouting, ‘Save me, save me.’
Mednik reported from Kherson, Ukraine.
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