Kyiv’s mayor is warning residents that there’s real potential of a total blackout across the capital city of about three million people. This as Ukraine braces for more expected Russian airstrikes on its national energy infrastructure.
“The temperature in the apartments may not differ much from the outside temperature,” Mayor Vitaliy Klitschko announced at a local security forum at a moment when temperatures have dipped below freezing, or -4 degrees Celsius (25 degrees Fahrenheit). “I appeal to the people…to have a supply of technical water, drinking water, durable food products, warm clothing,” he emphasized.
Authorities have scrambled to set up warming centers in various hard-hit cities across the country, also warning that some portions of cities may have to evacuate if the energy crisis worsens. Despite utility crews scrambling, an estimated 40% of the entire national energy infrastructure remains degraded or destroyed.
Klitschko in his appeal told people that they must consider moving in with family or friends who have remained less impacted by the power cuts on the outskirts of Kyiv.
The Kremlin has meanwhile defended its strategy of targeting Ukrainian energy as “legitimate”. According to a New York Times update:
As Ukrainian officials warned that Moscow was preparing to launch yet another wave of missile strikes aimed at destroying the nation’s energy grid, Russia’s foreign minister on Thursday defended Moscow’s attacks, calling infrastructure a legitimate military target despite warnings by the United Nations that they could amount to war crimes.
Sergei V. Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, spoke at a news conference hours after Ukrainian officials said that Russian attacks had disabled the power grid in the southern city of Kherson and six million people across the country were still without power after previous assaults.
Drawing on familiar Kremlin themes framing the Ukraine war as a battle with the West, Mr. Lavrov said that Russia is hitting targets that are used to replenish Ukrainian forces with weapons provided by Western nations and that the Ukrainian forces rely on to operate. He did not elaborate.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a meeting of NATO ministers in Bucharest, Romania condemned the “barbaric” Russian actions.
“As Ukraine continues to seize momentum on the battlefield, President Putin continues to focus his ire and his fire on Ukraine’s civilian population,” he said. “Heat, water, electricity — for the children, for the elderly, for the sick — these are President Putin’s new targets. He’s hitting them hard. This brutalization of Ukraine’s people is barbaric.”