Residents of Ukraine’s bombed capital clutched empty bottles in search of water and crowded into cafés for power and warmth, switching defiantly into survival mode after new Russian missile strikes on Wednesday plunged the city and much of the country into the dark.
In the city of three million, some 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 aerial onslaught on Ukraine’s power grid left many with neither.
Oleksiy Rashchupkin, a 39-year-old investment banker, awoke to find that the water supply had been restored to his third-floor flat but the electricity supply 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 the left bank to right, to a café that he had noticed had stayed open after previous Russian strikes – sure enough, it was serving hot drinks and food, and the music and WiFi were on.
“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.
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 The Associated Press news agency.
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 café. Without electricity, heating and water at home, she was determined to keep up her work routine. Adapting to a 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…