Ukraine crisis: Kyiv flips to survival mode
Residents of Ukraine’s bombed but undaunted capital clutched empty bottles in search of water and crowded into cafés for power and warmth on Thursday, switching defiantly into survival mode after new Russian missile strikes a day earlier plunged the city and much of the country into the dark.
In scenes hard to believe in a sophisticated city of 3 million, some Kyiv residents resorted to collecting rainwater from drainpipes, as repair teams laboured to reconnect supplies. Friends and family members exchanged messages to find out who had electricity and water back.
Some had one but not the other. The previous day’s aerial onslaught on Ukraine’s power grid left many with neither. Cafés in Kyiv that by some small miracle had both quickly become oases of comfort on Thursday.
Oleksiy Rashchupkin, a 39-year-old banker, awoke to find that water had been reconnected to his third-floor flat but power had not. His freezer thawed in the blackout, leaving a puddle on his floor. So he hopped in a cab and crossed the Dnieper river from left bank to right, to a café that he’d noticed had stayed open after previous Russian strikes. Sure enough, it was open, serving hot drinks, and hot food and with the music and WiFi on. “I’m here because there is heating, coffee and light,” he said. “Here is life.”
Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko said about 70 per cent of the Ukrainian capital was still without power on Thursday morning. With cold rain falling and the remnants of a previous snowfall still on the streets, the mood was grim but steely. The winter promises to be a long one. But Ukrainians say that if Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intention is to break them, then he should think again.
“Nobody will compromise their will and principles just for electricity,” said Alina Dubeiko, 34. She, too, sought out the comfort of another, equally crowded, warm and lit café. Without electricity, heating and water at home, she was determined to keep up her work routine. Dubeiko said she uses two glasses of water to wash, then ties her hair in a ponytail and is ready for her working day. She said she’d rather live without power than live with the Russian invasion.