As winter approaches in Ukraine, Alla Melnychuk and his neighbors are racing against time to save what little is left.
Their apartment in Irpin was attacked during the most intense fighting in March. Most of the windows are still shattered, the roof is gone, the sewers are burned out, there is no water supply or sewage outlet. Heavy rains in September caused even more damage, but Melnychuk is determined to proceed with the repairs. “I’m still going to spend the winter in Irpin,” she told CNN.
Melnychuk, her husband, and cat Murchyk are currently renting a makeshift apartment in Kyiv, a quiet, leafy neighborhood in the capital that was at the forefront of Russia’s attempt to remove the Ukrainian leader in the spring. I hope to return to suburban Irpin. “We’re behind. We’re slowly rebuilding. We’re buying timber, we’re installing the roof, and we’re not even considering the option of not finishing it by winter,” she said.
As the weather gets colder, millions of Ukrainians like Melnychuk are determined to have enough fuel to fix their homes and keep warm for what they know is going to be a very difficult winter. I’m in a hurry to In July, the Ukrainian government said more than 800,000 homes had been damaged or destroyed and thousands of people had lost their roofs since the civil war began in February.
These problems have been exacerbated in recent weeks by Russia’s barrage of attacks on Ukraine’s power and heating infrastructure.
According to the International Energy Agency, Ukraine’s electricity demand has dropped by about 40% since Russia’s invasion, but the government is still gearing up for a harsh winter.
Ukraine’s energy agency has to implement a ‘serious’ and ‘unprecedented’ emergency blackout in Kyiv to avoid a ‘complete blackout’ as Kiev faces a 30% power shortage said. Residents were urged to use electricity “sparingly”, especially in the mornings and evenings, and businesses were asked to turn off the lights outside their offices, restaurants and shopping centers.
Power outages are unpredictable. In other words, people should always be ready. Computers and phones are charged whenever the opportunity arises. Some elevators in many high-rise residential buildings in the city are equipped with emergency supply boxes containing water, snacks, sanitary wipes, medicine, garbage and toilet emergency bags.
Driving in the city during a power outage has become more dangerous. According to police, traffic accidents he has increased by 25%. Stores closed during the blackout, and some restaurants began advertising “blackout” menus of food and beverages that could be served during the cut. When a power outage leads to an unexpected break, workers go out into the street to smoke.
To help people heat their homes, the Ukrainian government has launched a new online firewood store that makes it easier for people to find local suppliers. is circulating on social media.
Earlier this week, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk advised Ukrainian refugees not to return home this winter, as the country’s fragile power grid risks being completely overwhelmed.
Irina Kondratova, head of the hospital’s perinatal center in Kharkiv, told CNN that the risk of sudden power outages is always on her mind. Her hospital is working hard to secure medical equipment with an autonomous power supply because relying on generators is too risky.
“It can take 15 to 20 minutes to get out of the generator after you turn it off.
There are other issues she has to think about. Russia’s constant attacks on power grids mean supplies are unpredictable. “Equipment used in neonatal and pediatric intensive care units is affected by even small voltage fluctuations. The worst case scenario is when the network voltage rises significantly. Because if the voltage drops, the equipment can also turn off,” she said.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that this winter will add “significant challenges” to an already difficult life in Ukraine. “Too many people in Ukraine lead precarious lives, moving from place to place, living in substandard buildings and without access to heating. It can lead to hypothermia, pneumonia, stroke and heart attack,” Dr Hans Henri Kluge, WHO’s Regional Director for Europe, said in a statement earlier this month.
At one failed coal-fired power plant CNN visited this week, engineers were working around the clock to fix it after Russia attacked the most sensitive part of the facility twice in the past three weeks.
The blown windows had been replaced with sheets of steel and rubber. Workers dangled from high-voltage cables, reconnected vital wiring, and technicians sifted through the burnt-out wreckage for repairable parts.
Engineers work around the clock, but their work is constantly interrupted by air raid sirens. No one knows how long it will take to get the power plant back online, but every minute he spends in the power plant bunker is wasted time.
One of the engineers told CNN that nothing would stop him and his team from getting the plant back online. CNN cannot name him or the power plant for security reasons.
Melinda Herring, deputy director of the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center, told CNN: “President Putin’s machinations are clear. He wants this winter to be the coldest and darkest in Ukraine’s history.” rice field. “He will continue to strike infrastructure grids to knock out Ukrainian power and heat. she added.
Many Ukrainians fear winter, but military analysts say colder weather could present a big opportunity for the Ukrainian army.
“The important thing to know about the fighting in Ukraine is that, historically, it was seasonal,” said George Barros, an analyst and leader of the Institute for War Studies’ geospatial team. told CNN. “Usually we see fighting intensify during the winter, so we expect the overall tempo of fighting to increase this winter,” he added.
Much of the ground warfare takes place in eastern Ukraine, on vast stretches of farmland, swamps and swamps. Frozen ground hardens, making it easier to maneuver heavy military machinery and armor.
When the spring thaw begins, the ground becomes soft, flooded and muddy. Russians call this time of year when travel on the road becomes more difficult “Rasputitsa” or “general mud”.
“The time for the Ukrainian counterattack is now underway. Since August. The thaw starts in late February and we head into March, which marks the beginning of the mud season,” Barros said.
Another reason for Ukraine to step up its counterattack is the state of the Russian army, which has been greatly depleted over the past eight months.
“The key point is that there are no primitive Russian military units that can fight in Ukraine, because they have already done so and they are all degraded,” Barros said. He said, adding that Putin’s willingness to mobilize more fighters wouldn’t help much.
“Bringing in all these soldiers does not really create an effective fighting force because they are not well trained and well supplied,” Haring said. “There are credible reports that the new Russian army has no food or blankets. Imagine what would happen if winter hit in earnest,” she said.
The freezing cold is of course tough on both sides, but experts say Ukrainians have a psychological advantage. Volunteer armies try to help as much as they can by sending warm clothes and supplies and even making equipment.
Vadym Osadchy is one such volunteer. When he and his brother inherited a small metalworking factory in Kyiv, they had no idea what to do with it. As winter approached, they began using their own funds and money and materials donated by friends to build small stoves for soldiers on the front lines. “We produce small quantities. This is not a factory. If we work hard, we can make 40 to 50 stoves a month,” he said. “Still, these 40 to 50 stoves of his mean that 500 soldiers will stay warm during the winter,” he said.
A small makeshift production line constantly striving to improve its products. Latest Improvement: Added a special fastener to the stove so soldiers can dry their clothes.