KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Clutching empty bottles in search of water, residents of Ukraine’s bombed capital crowded into cafes for power and warmth Thursday, defiantly switching to survival mode after new Russian missile strikes hit the city a day earlier and much of the country. in the dark.
In hard-to-believe scenes in the sophisticated city of three million, some Kiev residents resorted to collecting rainwater from drain pipes as repair teams worked to restore supplies.
Friends and family exchanged messages to see who had power and water back. Some had one but not the other. The aerial attack on Ukraine’s power grid the previous day did not leave much of either.
Cafes in Kiev, which by some small miracle both quickly became oases of comfort on Thursday.
Oleksiy Rashchupkin, a 39-year-old investment banker, awoke to find that the water had been reconnected to his third-floor apartment, but the electricity had not. His freezer had defrosted in the outage, 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 cafe he noticed had remained open after previous Russian strikes. Sure enough, it served hot drinks, hot food, and the music and Wi-Fi were on.
“I’m here because there’s heat, coffee and light,” he said. “This is life.
Mayor of Kyiv Vitalij Klitschko said about 70% of the Ukrainian capital was still without power Thursday morning.
As Kyiv and other cities rose, Kherson came under the heaviest bombardment on Thursday since Ukrainian forces recaptured the southern city two weeks ago. A barrage of rockets killed four people outside the cafe and a woman was also killed next door to her home, witnesses who spoke to Associated Press reporters said.
In Kiev, where cold rain fell on the remnants of previous snowfalls, the mood was somber but steely. Winter promises to be long. But Ukrainians say that if Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intention is to break them, he should think again.
“No one will compromise their will and principles just for the sake of electricity,” said Alina Dubeiko (34). She too sought the comfort of another, equally crowded, warm and lit cafe. Without electricity, heat or water at home, she was determined to continue her work routine. Adapting to a life stripped of her usual comforts, Dubeiko said she uses two glasses of water to wash herself, then pulls her hair into a ponytail and is ready for her work day.
She said she would rather be without power than live with the Russian invasion, which crossed the nine-month mark on Thursday.
“No light or you? Without you,” she said, echoing remarks made by President Volodymyr Zelensky when Russia launched the first of what has now become a series of airstrikes on key Ukrainian infrastructure on October 10.
Western leaders condemned the bombing campaign. “Attacks against civilian infrastructure are war crimes,” tweeted French President Emmanuel Macron.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov admitted on Thursday that they had targeted Ukrainian energy facilities. But he said they are connected to Ukraine’s military command and control system and that the aim is to disrupt the flow of Ukrainian troops, weapons and ammunition to the front lines. Authorities for Kyiv and the wider Kyiv region reported a total of 7 dead and dozens injured.
Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vasily Nebenzia, said: “We are carrying out strikes against infrastructure in response to the unrestrained flow of arms to Ukraine and Kiev’s callous calls to defeat Russia.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also sought to shift the blame for civilian hardship to the Ukrainian government.
“The Ukrainian leadership has every opportunity to return the situation to normal, it has every opportunity to resolve the situation in such a way as to meet the demands of the Russian side and, accordingly, end all possible suffering of the civilian population,” Peskov said. .
In Kyiv, people lined up at public water taps to fill plastic bottles. In the strange new wartime, Kateryna Luchkina, a 31-year-old employee of the Ministry of Health, resorted to collecting rainwater from a drain pipe so that she could at least wash her hands at work, where there was no water. She filled two plastic bottles and waited patiently in the rain until they were filled to the brim. A colleague followed her and did the same.
“We Ukrainians are so resourceful, we’ll figure something out.” We are not losing spirit,” 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 city’s mayor said on Telegram that energy workers are “doing their best” to restore electricity. Water repair teams have also advanced. By early afternoon, Klitschko announced that water supplies had been restored throughout the capital, warning that “some consumers may still experience low water pressure”.
Energy, heat and water gradually returned elsewhere. In southeastern Ukraine’s Dnipropetrovsk region, the governor announced that 3,000 miners trapped underground due to power outages had been rescued. Regional authorities posted messages on social media informing people of the progress of repairs, but also said they needed time.
Aware of the hardships – now and to come as winter progresses – authorities are opening thousands of so-called “invincible places” – heated and powered spaces offering hot meals, electricity and internet access. More than 3,700 were opened across the country as of Thursday morning, said senior presidential office official Kyrylo Tymoshenko.
In Kherson, hospitals without electricity and water are also facing the dire consequences of intensifying Russian strikes. They hit residential and commercial buildings on Thursday, setting some on fire, blowing ash into the sky and shattering glass across streets. Paramedics helped the injured.
Olena Zhura was carrying bread to her neighbors when the strike that destroyed half of her house injured her husband Victor. He writhed in pain as paramedics took him away.
“I was in shock,” she said, breaking into tears. “Then I heard (him) scream, ‘Save me, save me.’
Mednick reported from Kherson, Ukraine.
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