By JOHN LEICESTER, HANNA ARHIROVA and SAM MEDNICK (Associated Press)
KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Residents of Ukraine’s bombed capital clutched empty bottles in search of water and crowded into cafes for power and warmth Thursday, defiantly shifting into survival mode after new Russian missiles a day before submerged the city and a large part of the country. in the dark
In scenes hard to believe in a sophisticated city of 3 million, some Kiev residents resorted to collecting rainwater from drainage pipes as repair crews worked to restore supplies.
Friends and family members exchanged messages to find out who had electricity and water. Some had one but not the other. Yesterday’s airstrike on Ukraine’s power grid left many without power.
Cafes in Kiev that by a small miracle had both quickly become oases of comfort on Thursday.
Oleksiy Rashchupkin, a 39-year-old investment banker, woke up to find that the water had been reconnected to his third-floor apartment, but the power was not. Her freezer thawed in the blackout, leaving a puddle on her floor.
Then he jumped into a taxi and crossed the Dnieper River from the left bank to the right, to a cafe he had noticed had been opened after previous Russian attacks. Of course it served hot drinks, hot food and the music and Wi-Fi were on.
“I’m here because there’s heating, coffee and light,” he said. “That’s life.”
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said about 70% of the Ukrainian capital was still without power Thursday morning.
As Kiev and other cities came under fire, Kherson on Thursday came under its heaviest shelling since Ukrainian forces retook the southern city two weeks ago. The missile barrage killed four people outside a coffee shop and a woman was also killed next to her home, witnesses said, speaking to Associated Press reporters.
In Kiev, where cold rain fell on the remnants of previous snowfalls, the mood was grim but steely. The winter promises to be long. But Ukrainians say that if Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intention is to break them up, he should think again.
“Nobody will compromise their will and principles just for electricity,” said 34-year-old Alina Dubeiko. She, too, sought the comfort of another cafe equally crowded, warm and lit. Without electricity, heating and running water at home, she was determined to maintain her work routine. Adapting to 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.
“Without light or you? Without you,” he said, echoing remarks President Volodymyr Zelensky made when Russia on Oct. 10 unleashed the first of what has become a series of airstrikes on key infrastructure ukraine
Western leaders have denounced the bombing campaign. “Strikes against civilian infrastructure are war crimes,” French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted.
The spokesman for the Russian Ministry of Defense, 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 that the aim was 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 people killed and dozens injured.
Russian UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said: “We are conducting attacks against infrastructure in response to the unrestrained flow of weapons into Ukraine and Kiev’s reckless calls to defeat Russia.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also sought to shift the blame for the civilian problems to the Ukrainian government.
“The leadership of Ukraine has every opportunity to return the situation to normality, it has every opportunity to resolve the situation in such a way as to meet the demands of the Russian side and, therefore, end all possible sufferings of the civilian population,” Peskov said. .
In Kiev, people line up at public water points to fill plastic bottles. In a strange new wartime first for her, 31-year-old Health Department employee Kateryna Luchkina resorted to collecting rainwater from a drainpipe so she could at least wash her hands at work, which he had no water. He filled two plastic bottles, waiting patiently in the rain until they had water up to the brim. A colleague followed behind her, doing the same.
“We Ukrainians are so resourceful, we will think of anything. We will not lose our spirit,” said Luchkina. “We work, we live at the rate of survival or something, as much as possible. We do not lose hope that everything will be fine.”
The city’s mayor said on Telegram that energy engineers are “doing their best” to restore electricity. Water repair crews are also making progress. At the beginning of the afternoon, Klitschko announced that the water supply had been restored throughout the capital, with the warning that “some consumers may still have low water pressure”.
Power, heat and water are slowly coming back elsewhere, too. In the Dnipropetrovsk region of southeastern Ukraine, the governor announced that 3,000 miners trapped underground due to power outages have been rescued. The regional authorities published messages on social media to update people on the progress of the repair, but also saying that they needed time.
As a result of the difficulties – now and then, as the winter progresses – the authorities are opening thousands of so-called “points of invincibility” – heated and powered spaces that offer hot meals, electricity and internet connection. More than 3,700 were open across the country on Thursday morning, said a senior official in the presidential office, Kyrylo Tymoshenko.
In Kherson, hospitals without power and water are also struggling with the dire effects of the intensification of Russian attacks. They hit residential and commercial buildings on Thursday, setting them ablaze, blowing ash into the sky and shattering glass on the streets. Paramedics helped the injured.
Olena Zhura was bringing bread to her neighbors when a strike that destroyed half of her house injured her husband, Victor. He writhed in pain as paramedics carried him away.
“I was shocked,” she said, filled with tears. “Then I heard him scream, ‘Save me, save me.’
Mednick reported from Kherson, Ukraine.
Follow AP coverage of the war in Ukraine at: https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine