Residents of Ukraine’s bombed capital clutched empty bottles in search of water and crowded cafes for electricity and heat, after new Russian missile strikes plunged the city and much of the country into darkness on Wednesday.
In the city of three million, some residents resorted to collecting rainwater from drains as repair crews worked to reconnect supplies.
Friends and family members exchanged messages as to who had power and water back on. Some had one but not the other.
The airstrikes on Ukraine’s power grid left many people in the lurch.
Oleksiy Rashchupkin, a 39-year-old investment banker, woke up to find that the water supply had been restored to his third-floor flat, but the electricity had not. Her freezer melted in the blackout, leaving a puddle on its floor.
So he jumped in a taxi and crossed the Dnieper River from the left bank to the right bank, to a cafe that he’d seen had been left open after previous Russian attacks—sure enough, it served hot drinks and food. was on, and the music and wifi were on.
“I’m here because there’s heat, coffee and light,” he said. “There’s life here.”
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said about 70 percent of Ukraine’s capital was still without power on Thursday morning.
As Kyiv and other cities braced themselves, Kherson came under its heaviest bombardment on Thursday since Ukrainian forces captured the southern city two weeks ago. Witnesses speaking to the Associated Press news agency said the barrage of missiles killed four people outside a coffee shop and also killed a woman.
In Kyiv, where cold rain fell on the remnants of a previous snowfall, the mood was grim but steely. Winter promises to be long. But the people of Ukraine say that if Russian President Vladimir Putin intends to break them, then he should think again.
“No one will compromise their will and principles just for the sake of power,” said 34-year-old Alina Dubeyko. He, too, sought the comfort of another in an equally crowded, warm and well-lit cafe. Without electricity, heating and running water in the house, she was determined to maintain her work routine. Dubeyko said that adopting a life devoid of her usual comforts, she uses two glasses of water to wash herself, then holds her hair in a ponytail and prepares for her work day.
She said that she would rather be without power than live with the Russian invasion for a tenth month.
“Without the light or you? Without you,” she said, echoing comments from President Volodymyr Zelensky when on October 10 Russia first carried out what has now become a series of airstrikes on key Ukrainian infrastructure.
Western leaders condemned the bombing campaign. French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted, “Attacks against civilian infrastructure are war crimes.”
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov acknowledged on Thursday that it had targeted Ukrainian energy facilities. 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 in Kiev and the wider Kyiv region reported a total of seven dead and dozens more injured.
Russian UN ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said: “We are carrying out attacks against infrastructure in Ukraine in response to the unbridled flow of arms and Kyiv’s reckless appeals to defeat Russia.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also sought to shift the blame for citizens’ hardship on the government of Ukraine.
Peskov said, “The leadership of Ukraine has every chance to normalize the situation, to resolve the situation in such a way as to satisfy the demands of the Russian side and, accordingly, to eliminate all possible suffering of the civilian population.” Do it.” ,
In Kyiv, people queue at public water points to fill up plastic bottles.
In a strange new wartime first for her, Katerina Luchkina, a 31-year-old health department worker, resorted to collecting rainwater from a drainpipe so she could at least wash her hands at work, which had no running water.
She filled two plastic bottles, waiting patiently in the rain until they filled with water. A colleague behind him was doing the same.
“We Ukrainians are so resourceful, we’ll think of something. We don’t lose our spirit,” said Luchkina. “We work, live in survival mode or whatever, as much as possible. We do not lose hope that everything will be fine.”
The city’s mayor said on a telegram that power engineers were “doing their best” to restore power. Water repair crews were also making progress. In the early afternoon, Klitschko announced that water supplies had been restored across the capital, with a warning that “some consumers may still experience low water pressure”.
Power and water were slowly coming back on elsewhere as well. In Ukraine’s southeastern Dnipropetrovsk region, the governor announced that 3,000 miners trapped underground due to a power cut had been rescued. Regional officials posted messages on social media informing people about the progress of repairs but also said they needed time.
With difficulties in mind – both now and ahead – as winter progresses – authorities are opening thousands of so-called “points of invulnerability” – heated and powered places offering hot food, electricity and internet connections. More than 3,700 were open across the country as of Thursday morning, said Kirillo Tymoshenko, a senior official in the president’s office.
In Kherson, hospitals without electricity and water are also grappling with the dire consequences of intensifying Russian attacks. They attacked residential and commercial buildings on Thursday, setting some on fire, spewing ash into the sky and breaking glass on the streets. The doctors helped the injured.
Olena Zhura was carrying bread to her neighbors when a strike injured her husband, Victor, which destroyed half of their house. He moaned in pain when paramedics took him away.
“I was shocked,” she said through tears. “Then I heard [him] was shouting: ‘Save me, save me.'”