Bombed, not beaten: Ukraine’s capital goes into survival mode

Bombed, not beaten: Ukraine’s capital goes into survival mode

Bombed, not beaten: Ukraine’s capital goes into survival mode

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Residents of Ukraine’s bombed but fearless capital clutched empty bottles for water and crowded into cafes for electricity and heat Thursday, defiantly shifting into survival mode after fresh Russian missile strikes a day earlier plunged the city and most of the country into darkness.

In scenes hard to believe in the sophisticated city of 3 million, some Kiev residents resorted to collecting rainwater from drain pipes as repair teams worked to reconnect supplies.

Friends and family members exchanged messages to find out whose electricity and water had been restored. Some had one but not the other. The previous day’s airstrike on Ukraine’s power grid left many without either.

Cafes in Kiev that by some small miracle both quickly became oases of comfort on Thursday.

Oleksiy Raschupkin, a 39-year-old investment banker, woke up to find that the water had been reconnected to his third-floor apartment, but the electricity had not. His freezer had thawed in the dark, leaving a puddle on the floor.

So he hopped into a taxi and crossed the Dnieper River from the left bank to the right, to a coffee shop he noticed had remained open after previous Russian attacks. Of course, it was open, serving hot drinks, hot food and with music and WiFi.

“I’m here because there’s heat, coffee and light,” he said. “Here’s to life.”

Kiev Mayor Vitalij Klitschko said about 70% of the Ukrainian capital was still without power Thursday morning.

With cold rain falling and remnants of the previous snowfall still on the streets, the mood was dark but steely. Winter promises to be long. But Ukrainians say that if Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intention is to crush them, then he should think again.

“No one will compromise their will and principles just for electricity,” said Alina Dubeiko, 34. She too sought the comfort of another, equally crowded, warm and well-lit cafe. Without electricity, heat or water in the house, she was determined to continue her work routine. Adjusting to a life devoid of the usual comforts, Dubeiko said she uses two glasses of water to wash herself, then ties her hair in a ponytail and is ready for her work day.

She said she would rather live without electricity than live with the Russian invasion, which marked nine months on Thursday.

“No light or you? Without you,” she said, echoing President Volodymyr Zelensky’s remarks when Russia launched the first of what has now become a series of airstrikes against key Ukrainian infrastructure on Oct. 10.

Western leaders condemned the bombing campaign. “Strikes on civilian infrastructure are war crimes,” French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov tried to shift the blame for the civil unrest on the Ukrainian government on Thursday.

“The leadership of Ukraine has every opportunity to return the situation to normal, it has every opportunity to resolve the situation in a way that meets the demands of the Russian side and, accordingly, ends all possible suffering of the civilian population,” Peskov said. .

The Russian military said Wednesday’s attacks, which used “high-precision weapons,” targeted “Ukraine’s military command and control system and energy facilities related to it,” disrupting the movement of Ukrainian military troops, foreign weapons, military equipment and ammunition to combat operations. areas.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said Thursday that “not a single attack” was aimed at targets in the city of Kiev and blamed the reported damage in the Ukrainian capital on falling missiles fired from “foreign and Ukrainian air defense systems” deployed in residential buildings in the city area.

In Kyiv, people lined up at public water pipes to fill plastic bottles. In the strange new wartime, for the first time for her, 31-year-old employee of the Ministry of Health Kateryna Luchkina resorted to collecting rainwater from a drain pipe, so that she could at least wash her hands at work, which had no water. She filled two plastic bottles, patiently waiting in the rain until they were full of water. A colleague followed behind her, doing the same.

“We Ukrainians are so resourceful that we will come up with something. We don’t lose heart,” said Luchkina. “We work, we live in the rhythm of survival or something, as much as possible. We are not losing hope that everything will be fine.”

The mayor said on Telegram that electrical engineers are “doing their best” to restore electricity. Water repair teams have also made progress. In the early afternoon, Klitschko announced that water supplies had been restored across the capital, warning that “some customers may still have low water pressure”.

Electricity, heat and water were gradually restored elsewhere. In the Dnipropetrovsk region of southeastern 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 saying they needed time.

With the hardships in mind – both now and ahead as winter wears on – authorities are opening thousands of so-called “invincibility points” – heated and electric spaces that offer hot meals, electricity and internet connections. More than 3,700 were open across the country as of Thursday morning, a senior official in the presidential office of Kyrillo Tymoshenko said.

In the southern city of Kherson, which was retaken by Ukrainian forces two weeks ago, hospitals’ struggle with power and water cuts has been exacerbated by intensified Russian strikes.

On Thursday, Olena Žura was bringing bread to her neighbors when her husband Viktor was wounded in an attack that destroyed half of her house in Kherson. Paramedics dragged Viktor away as he writhed in pain.

“I was shocked,” she said, tears welling up in her eyes. “Then I heard (him) shouting, ‘Save me, save me.’


AP reporter Sam Mednick in Kherson, Ukraine, contributed.


Follow AP coverage of the war in Ukraine at: https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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