Kyiv residents holding out as repair teams work to restore power and water after heavy Russian strikes

Residents of Ukraine’s bombed capital clutched empty bottles in search of water and crowded into cafes for power and warmth, 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 city of 3 million, some Kyiv residents resorted to collecting rainwater from drainpipes, as repair teams labored to reconnect supplies.

Friends and family members exchanged messages to find out who had electricity and water back.

The previous day’s aerial assault on Ukraine’s power grid left many with neither.

Cafes in Kyiv quickly became oases of comfort on Thursday.

Oleksiy Rashchupkin, a 39-year-old investment banker, woke up 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 into a cab and crossed the Dnieper River from left bank to right, to a cafe that he’d noticed had stayed open after previous Russian strikes.

Sure enough, it was serving hot drinks, hot food and there was Wi-fi.

People walk past a cafe with red and yellow lights shining against a dark night.
Cafés have become key places for Kyiv residents to get food, drink and internet connections.(AP: Evgeniy Maloletka)

“I’m here because there is heating, coffee and light,” he said.

“Here is life.”

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said about 70 percent of the Ukrainian capital was still without power on Thursday morning.

Russia acknowledges targeting energy facilities

The winter promises to be a long one.

But Ukrainians say that if Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intention is to break them, he should think again.

“Nobody will compromise their will and principles just for electricity,” said Alina Dubeiko, 34.

She said she’d rather be without power than live with the Russian invasion, which crossed the nine-month mark on Thursday.

“Without light or you? Without you,” she said, echoing remarks President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made when Russia on October 10 unleashed the first of what has now become a series of aerial attacks on key Ukrainian infrastructure.

People gather their belongings from a damaged house, with one passing items out of a destroyed window to another.
Authorities said seven people were killed and dozens wounded after Russian strikes in and around Kyiv.(AP: Efrem Lukatsky)

Western leaders denounced the bombing campaign.

“Strikes against civilian infrastructures 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 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 seven people killed and dozens wounded.

Russian UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said: “We are conducting strikes against infrastructure in response to the unbridled flow of weapons to Ukraine and the reckless appeals of Kyiv to defeat Russia.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also sought to shift blame for civilian hardship on Ukraine’s government.

“Ukraine’s leadership has every opportunity to bring the situation back to normal, has every opportunity to resolve the situation in such a way as to meet the demands of the Russian side and, accordingly, end all possible suffering of the civilian population,” Mr Peskov said.

Kherson under its heaviest bombardment

In Kyiv, the city’s mayor said engineers “are doing their best” to restore electricity.

Water repair teams were making progress, too.

A truck with a rocket launcher system mounted to the back fires a rocket as a soldier stands nearby.
Ukraine’s military is fighting Russian forces at the frontline near Bakhmut in the Donetsk region.(AP: LIBKOS)

In the early afternoon, Mr Klitschko announced that water supplies had been restored across the capital, with the caveat that “some consumers may still experience low water pressure”.

Power, heat and water were gradually coming back elsewhere, too.

In Ukraine’s south-eastern Dnepropetrovsk region, the governor announced that 3,000 miners trapped underground because of power blackouts had been rescued.

To help residents deal with the lack of power and water, authorities have opened more than 3,700 heated and powered spaces offering hot meals, electricity and internet connections.

Kyiv residents charge their devices and warm up inside the tent.
Kyiv residents charge their devices, connect to the internet and warm up inside the centers.(Reuters: Valentyn Ogirenko)

As Kyiv and other cities picked themselves up, Kherson on Thursday came under its heaviest bombardment since Ukrainian forces recaptured the southern city two weeks ago.

The barrage of missiles killed four people outside a coffee shop and a woman was also killed next to her house, witnesses said.

Intensifying Russian strikes hit residential and commercial buildings on Thursday, setting some ablaze, blowing ash skyward and shattering glass across streets.

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Residents slowly return to pillaged towns of eastern Ukraine.(Greg Jennett)



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