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Ukrainians struggle in dark after attacks

by Compiled by Democrat-Gazette staff from wire reports | November 25, 2022 at 4:52 a.m.
People gather their belongings from a damaged house Thursday after Russian shelling in the town of Vyshgorod outside the capital Kyiv, Ukraine. More photos at arkansasonline.com/1125kyiv/. (AP/Efrem Lukatsky)


KYIV, Ukraine -- Residents of Ukraine's bombed capital clutched empty bottles in search of water and crowded into cafes for power and warmth 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 labored 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.

Cafes in Kyiv that by some small miracle had both quickly became oases of comfort on Thursday.

Oleksiy Rashchupkin, a 39-year-old investment 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 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 the music and Wi-Fi were on.

"I'm here because there is heating, coffee and light," he said. "Here is life."

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

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, speaking to Associated Press reporters.

In Kyiv, where cold rain fell on the remnants of previous snowfalls, 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, 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 cafe. Without electricity, heating and water at home, she was determined to keep up her work routine. Adapting to life shorn of its usual comforts, Dubeiko said she uses two glasses of water to wash, then catches her hair in a ponytail and is ready for her working day.

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 Zelenskky made when Russia on Oct. 10 unleashed the first of what has now become a series of aerial attacks on key Ukrainian infrastructure.

Western leaders denounced the bombing campaign. "Strikes against civilian infrastructures are war crimes," French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted.

RUSSIAN TARGETS

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov acknowledged 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 flows of Ukrainian troops, weapons and ammunition to front lines.

Authorities for Kyiv and the wider Kyiv region reported a total of seven people killed and dozens of wounded.

Russian U.N. 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," Peskov said.

In Kyiv, people lined 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 had no water. She filled two plastic bottles, waiting patiently in the rain until they had water to the brim. A colleague followed behind her, doing the same.

"We Ukrainians are so resourceful, we will think of something. We do not lose our spirit," Luchkina said. "We work, live in the rhythm of survival or something, as much as possible. We do not lose hope that everything will be fine."

The city mayor said on Telegram that power engineers "are doing their best " to restore electricity. Water repair teams were making progress, too. In the early afternoon, 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 southeastern Dnipropetrovsk region, the governor announced that 3,000 miners trapped underground because of power blackouts had been rescued. Regional authorities posted messages on social media updating people on the progress of repairs but also saying they needed time.

Mindful of the hardships -- both now and ahead, as winter progresses -- authorities are opening thousands of so-called points of invincibility -- heated and powered spaces offering hot meals, electricity and internet connections.

More than 3,700 were open across the country Thursday morning, said a senior official in the presidential office, Kyrylo Tymoshenko.

In Kherson, hospitals without power and water are also contending with the gruesome after-effects of intensifying Russian strikes. They hit residential and commercial buildings Thursday, setting some ablaze, blowing ash skyward and shattering glass across streets. Paramedics helped the injured.

Olena Zhura was carrying bread to her neighbors when a strike that destroyed half of her house wounded her husband, Victor. He writhed in pain as paramedics carried him away.

"I was shocked," she said, welling with tears. "Then I heard [him] shouting: 'Save me, save me."

POLAND'S MISSILE PUSH

Germany's defense minister dismissed a surprise request from Poland to station surface-to-air Patriot missiles in western Ukraine, saying such a deployment would have to be agreed to by NATO.

The request, disclosed late Wednesday in a post on Twitter by Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak, came just days after the countries struck an air-defense deal that would see German Patriot missiles and fighter jets deployed to Poland. It followed a strike that raised fears of a significant escalation between NATO allies and Russia.

"These are Patriot systems that are part of integrated NATO air-defense planning. That's why it was possible to make this offer to Poland," German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht told reporters in Berlin Thursday after talks with her Estonian counterpart.

"Any proposal that deviates from that must now be discussed with NATO and with our allies."

Germany made the offer to station surface-to-air Patriots in Poland less than a week after a missile strike killed two people in a village close to the border with Ukraine, raising fears of a significant escalation between NATO and Russia.

Blaszczak said he asked Germany to move the weapons even farther east after a fresh series of strikes by Russia, adding that "they should protect Ukraine from further casualties and blackouts and will increase security at our eastern border."

Poland's ruling party has pilloried the government in Berlin for what it calls a slow response to Russian aggression. The deal this week offered a chance to turn the page on fraught relations between the two countries. Warsaw this year launched a campaign to demand Germany pay $1.3 trillion in compensation for damages from World War II.

Information for this article was contributed by John Leicester, Hanna Arhirova and Sam Mednick of The Associated Press and by Maciej Martewicz and Arne Delfs of Bloomberg News (TNS).

  photo  Ukrainian military's Grad multiple rocket launcher fires rockets at Russian positions in the frontline near Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/LIBKOS)
 
 
  photo  A man walks at the city center which lost electrical power after yesterday's Russian rocket attack in Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
 
 
  photo  People cross the road at the city center which lost electrical power after yesterday's Russian rocket attack in Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
 
 
  photo  A young couple walk at the city center which lost electrical power after yesterday's Russian rocket attack in Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
 
 
  photo  Ukrainian servicemen prepare to fire at Russian positions in the frontline near Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/LIBKOS)
 
 
  photo  A man rides by bicycle at the city center which lost electrical power after yesterday's Russian rocket attack in Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
 
 
  photo  Ukrainian servicemen prepare to fire at Russian positions in the frontline near Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/LIBKOS)
 
 
  photo  People walk at the city center which lost electrical power after yesterday's Russian rocket attack in Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
 
 
  photo  People walk at the city center which lost electrical power after yesterday's Russian rocket attack in Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
 
 


  photo  A Ukrainian military Grad multiple rocket launcher fires rockets at Russian positions Thursday in the frontline near Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine. (AP/LIBKOS)
 
 


  photo  People line up to collect water, Thursday in Kyiv, Ukraine. Residents of Ukraine’s bombed but undaunted capital clutched empty bottles in search of water and crowded into cafes for power and warmth 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. (AP/Evgeniy Maloletka)
 
 



 Gallery: Ukraine's capital flips to survival mode



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