Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko has said some residents of the city may have to leave if Russian missiles continue to inflict severe damage on Ukraine’s power grid and other critical infrastructure, amid warnings that more rocket strikes could come at any time.
Blackouts were common again across Ukraine on Monday as engineers continued repairing damage inflicted by a wave of missile attacks last week. Growing electricity consumption due to colder weather has caused emergency shutdowns at several power plants.
State power firm Ukrenergo said the grid could only meet 73 per cent of the country’s electricity needs on Monday morning due to “a deficit in the energy system caused by seven waves of Russian missile attacks on the energy infrastructure. The scale and complexity of the damage is very large. Repairs continue around the clock.”
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy warned on Sunday night that Russia was “preparing new strikes … and as long as they have missiles, they won’t stop”.
“The upcoming week can be as hard as the one that has just passed. Our defence forces are preparing. The whole state is preparing. We are working out all scenarios, including with our [foreign] partners … Together, and by helping each other, we will pass this test of the war as well: this winter, this attempt by Russia to use the cold against people.”
Mr Klitschko said that in the event of another major missile strike he “could not rule out the worst scenario”.
“There will not be a full evacuation [of Kyiv] … but maybe a partial one. It would be a temporary transfer of people in some categories to the suburbs, where there would be [essential] services.
“In case of the worst scenario it would be good if everyone had the opportunity or went to their home outside the city, where there is water and a [wood-burning] stove, or went to friends. But we will do everything to prevent the worst case happening,” he added.
Many Ukrainians have a family “dacha” outside the town or city where they spend most of their time – usually a modest cottage or cabin with basic facilities and a garden where they grow food.
Mr Zelenskiy has singled out Kyiv for criticism over what he called its failure to provide enough assistance to residents, and the parliamentary leader of his Servant of the People party, David Arakhamia, said the city’s provision of help centres during blackouts – where people can warm up, get water and access the internet – was insufficient.
“I do not want – especially in the current situation – to get into political battles. It’s ridiculous. I have other things to do,” Mr Klitschko, a former world heavyweight boxing champion, said in response. “This looks ugly, to say the least. Both for Ukrainians and for our foreign partners. Today, when everyone must work together, some political dances begin.”
The foreign ministers of seven states – Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Iceland, Sweden, Finland and Norway – arrived in Kyiv by train on Monday for a joint visit.
“Despite Russia’s bomb rains and barbaric brutality Ukraine will win!” Edgars Rinkevics, Latvia’s top diplomat, wrote on Twitter.
His Estonian counterpart Urmas Reinsalu said: “The strongest message from this visit is: Ukraine needs to win this war and therefore that the Western support should be stronger; more heavy weaponry without any political caveats, also including long distance missiles.”