Bombed, not beaten: Ukraine’s capital flips to survival mode

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Residents of Ukraine’s bombed capital clutched empty bottles in search of water and crowded into cafes for strength and warmth Thursday, shifting into survival mode after fresh Russian missile strikes a day earlier submerged the city and much of the country. into the dark

In scenes hard to believe in an advanced city of 3 million, some Kyiv residents resorted to collecting rainwater from drainpipes as repair teams scrambled to reconnect supplies.

Friends and family exchanged messages to find out who had power and water restored. Some had one but not the other. Last day’s airstrikes on Ukraine’s power grid left many unscathed.

Cafes in Kyiv, by some minor miracle, both suddenly became oases of solace.

Oleksii Rashchupkin, a 39-year-old investment banker, found that the water had been reconnected to his third-floor flat, but the electricity had not. His freezer melted in the blackout, leaving a puddle on his floor.

So he hopped into a cab and crossed the Dnieper River from the left bank to the right to a cafe he noticed had been open since the earlier Russian attacks. Of course, it served hot drinks and hot food, and the music and Wi-Fi were on.

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

Kyiv Mayor Vitaly Klitschko About 70% of the Ukrainian capital was still without power Thursday morning.

As Kiev and other cities braced themselves, Kherson on Thursday came under the heaviest bombardment since Ukrainian forces recaptured the southern city two weeks ago. The missiles killed four people outside a coffee shop and a woman near her home, witnesses told Associated Press reporters.

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In Kyiv, where cold rain fell on the remnants of the previous snowfall, the mood was grim but steely. Winter promises to be long. But the Ukrainians say that if Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intention is to destroy them, he should think again.

“Nobody will compromise their will and principles just for electricity,” said 34-year-old Alina Dubeyko. She too sought the comfort of another, equally busy, warm and well-lit cafe. Without electricity, heat or water at home, she decided to keep her work routine. Adjusted to a life far removed from her usual comforts, Dubeyko said she uses two glasses of water to wash herself, then puts her hair in a ponytail and gets ready for her workday.

On Thursday, she said she would rather be powerless than live with the nine-month-old Russian invasion.

“You without light? Without you,” she said, following remarks by Russian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Oct. 10 that unleashed the first of what has now become a series of airstrikes on key Ukrainian infrastructure.

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

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov admitted on Thursday that Ukrainian energy facilities had been targeted. But he said they were linked to Ukraine’s military command and control system and aimed at disrupting the flow of Ukrainian troops, weapons and ammunition to the front lines. Authorities for Kyiv and the greater Kyiv region reported seven people killed and dozens injured.

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Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said that “we are striking against infrastructure in response to the unrestrained flow of arms to Ukraine and to Kyiv’s reckless pleas to defeat Russia.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also tried to shift the blame for the civilian troubles onto the Ukrainian government.

Ukraine’s leadership has every opportunity to bring the situation to normal, to resolve the situation in a way that meets the demands of the Russian side, and accordingly, to end all possible suffering of the civilian population, Peskov said. .

In Kiev, people lined up at public water points to fill plastic bottles. During a strange new battle, 31-year-old health worker Katerina Luchkina resorted to collecting rainwater from a drainpipe so she could wash her hands without water at work. She filled two plastic bottles and waited patiently for the rain to dry up. A colleague followed her and did the same.

“We Ukrainians are very resourceful, we will think of something. We are not losing our spirit,” Luchkina said. “We work and live as long as we can on the rhythm of survival or whatever. Let’s not lose hope that everything will be alright. “

The city’s mayor said in a telegram that power engineers were “trying their best” to restore power. Water repair teams are also progressing. In the afternoon, Klitschko announced that water supplies had been restored across the capital, warning that “some customers may still experience low water pressure”.

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Electricity, heat and water were gradually restored elsewhere. 3,000 miners trapped underground due to a power outage in southeastern Ukraine’s Dnipropetrovsk region have been rescued, the governor said. Local authorities posted messages on social media to update people on the progress of repairs and say they needed time.

Mindful of the difficulties — now and ahead, as winter progresses — authorities are opening thousands of “points of invincibility” — heated and powered spaces that offer hot meals, electricity and Internet connections. As of Thursday morning, more than 3,700 were open across the country, said Kyrillo Tymoshenko, a senior official in the presidential office.

In Kherson, hospitals without electricity and water are struggling with the dire consequences of intensifying Russian strikes. They hit residential and commercial buildings on Thursday, setting some on fire, sending ash into the sky and shattering glass across streets. Paramedics treated the injured.

As Olena Shura takes bread to her neighbors, a strike destroys half of her house, injuring her husband Viktor. He writhed in pain as paramedics took him away.

“I was shocked,” she said through tears. “Then I heard (him) cry out: ‘Save me, save me.’


Mednik reported from Kherson, Ukraine.


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