Bombed, not battered: Ukrainian capital shifts to survival mode

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Residents of the bombed-out Ukrainian capital clutched empty bottles for water and crowded into cafes for electricity and warmth Thursday, a day after a new Russian missile strike left the city and With much of the country in trouble, they stubbornly shifted into survival mode into darkness.

In some unbelievable scenes in a complex city of three million people, some Kyiv residents resorted to harvesting rainwater from drainpipes as maintenance teams struggled to reconnect supplies.

Friends and family messaged each other asking who had electricity and water. Some people have one but not the other. The previous day’s airstrike on Ukraine’s power grid had left many on both sides.

Kyiv’s cafes quickly became oases of comfort thanks to a few small miracles on Thursday.

Oleksiy Rashchupkin, a 39-year-old investment banker, woke up to find his third-floor apartment had the water reconnected but not the electricity. His refrigerator defrosted during a power outage, leaving a puddle on his floor.

So he hopped in a taxi and crossed the Dnieper from left bank to right bank to a café he had noticed had been open after previous Russian attacks. Sure enough, it served hot drinks, hot food, music and Wi-Fi on.

“I’m here for the heat, the coffee and the lights,” he said. “Here is life.”

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko About 70 percent of the Ukrainian capital remained without power on Thursday morning.

As Kyiv and other cities recover, Kherson on Thursday suffered the heaviest bombing since Ukrainian forces recaptured the southern city two weeks ago. Witnesses told The Associated Press that the missile strike killed four people outside a coffee shop and killed a woman near her home.

In Kyiv, the atmosphere was grim but grim as cold rain fell on the remnants of previous snowfall. Winter is destined to be a long winter. But Ukrainians say Russian President Vladimir Putin should think twice if his intention is to break them up.

“No one would compromise their will and principles for electricity,” said Alina Dubeiko, 34, who also sought solace in another equally crowded, warm and brightly lit café. With no electricity, heat or water at home, she is determined to keep up her daily routine. To adjust to losing her usual comforts, Dubeko said, she washes her face with two glasses of water and pulls her hair into a ponytail as she gets ready for the day’s work.

She said she would rather be without power than endure a Russian incursion that surpassed nine months on Thursday.

“No light or you? Without you,” she said, echoing the first in a series of airstrikes on critical Ukrainian infrastructure launched by President Volodymyr Zelensky on Oct. 10.

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

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov acknowledged on Thursday that it targeted Ukrainian energy facilities. But he said they were linked to Ukraine’s military command and control system and aimed at stopping the flow of Ukrainian troops, weapons and ammunition to the front lines. Authorities in Kiev and the wider Kyiv region reported a total of seven people were killed and dozens injured.

Vassily Nebenzia, Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, said: “We are attacking infrastructure in response to the unchecked flow of arms to Ukraine and Kyiv’s reckless calls to defeat Russia.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also sought to blame the Ukrainian government for civilian suffering.

“The Ukrainian leadership has every opportunity to bring the situation back to normal, to resolve it in a way that meets the demands of the Russian side and, as a result, put an end to all possible suffering of the civilian population,” Peskov said.

In Kyiv, people line up to fill up plastic bottles at a public water point. When Kateryna Luchkina, a 31-year-old Ministry of Health employee, was experiencing a strange new battle for the first time in her life, she resorted to collecting rainwater from drains so she could at least wash her hands in workplaces without water. She filled two plastic bottles and waited patiently in the rain until they were full. A co-worker followed her and also followed her.

“We Ukrainians are resourceful and we will figure it out. We will not lose our spirit,” Luchkina said. “We work and live as much as we can to survive. We don’t lose hope that everything will be fine.”

The city’s mayor said on Telegram that electrical engineers were “doing their best” to restore power. The Xiushui team is also making progress. In the early afternoon, Klitschko announced that the capital’s water supply had been restored, but warned that “some consumers may still experience low water pressure”.

Electricity, heat and water are gradually being restored elsewhere as well. In the Dnipropetrovsk region of southeastern Ukraine, the governor announced that 3,000 miners trapped underground due to power outages had been rescued. Regional authorities took to social media to update people on the progress of the repairs, but also said they would take time.

Given the difficulties now and ahead, authorities are opening thousands of so-called “invincible spots” — heated and powered spaces that offer hot meals, electricity and internet connections — as winter progresses. More than 3,700 opened across the country Thursday morning, said Kyrylo Tymoshenko, a senior presidential official.

In Kherson, hospitals without power and water are also dealing with the dire aftereffects of Russia’s intensified strikes. They struck residential and commercial buildings Thursday, setting some on fire, blowing ash into the sky and shattering glass in the streets. Paramedics help the injured.

Olena Zhura was delivering bread to her neighbors when a strike destroyed half of her house and injured her husband, Victor. He writhed in pain as paramedics lifted him away.

“I was in shock,” she said, breaking down in tears. “Then I heard (him) yelling: ‘Help me, save me.'”


Mednik reported from Kherson, Ukraine.


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