Putin fails to ruin Xmas in Kyiv as locals ‘adapt’ to 24hr blackouts

Ukraine is being 'ground into the dust' says John Bolton

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A Kyiv-based energy expert has told Express.co.uk that Ukrainians are so used to going without power for hours each day that their spirits are not crushed, despite constant outages during the festive period. Amid President Vladimir Putin’s illegal war in Ukraine, Russian missile and drone strikes have been deliberately targeting critical energy infrastructure in brutal attacks that have completely battered the grid. 

Over the last few months, Ukrainian network operators have been able to make repairs, rolling out blackouts to balance the grid and leaving millions without power for hours at a time, now a common fixture in the war-torn nation. 

Express.co.uk caught up with Mark Savchuk, a local resident and an energy expert, who told us that while residents are still managing via a number of different strategies, the situation has gotten worse and will continue to deteriorate. 

He said: “Blackouts are getting even more frequent and they will be until the end of winter. To have no electricity for 24 hours is not even uncommon anymore. Sometimes you get periods of two or three hours without power but you have no idea when they will be.

“You have no idea how the electricity will even be distributed – the houses in front of me are lit up all the time and I have nothing, but I have no idea why. It is sporadic and nobody knows anything…but most of the time, we do not have electricity full stop, it is not even periodic anymore. 

“The situation will get worse when the temperature drops. We have had a very warm winter up until now, but when the temperature goes down, the consumption will go up, so it will get worse in January and February. 

“Our ministry of defence says that Russia has enough rockets for full launches, even the fact that they roughly launch a massive strike once every two weeks, you can easily calculate that they have enough launches to last until the end of the winter. Every single launch will make the situation worse than it is.

“Every single time we get hit by rockets the situation gets worse than it was before. In February, we probably won’t have electricity at all and we will only have electricity for critical infrastructure period – houses probably won’t be lit for the whole month.” 

Russia has been mainly targeting what are known as energy transformers, which are very difficult to replace when they get damaged. While they are able to make some repairs, Ukrainians are finding it increasingly difficult as the situation gets “progressively worse”. Now, they are calling for more equipment to help them make quicker fixes, as well as calls for power generators.

Mr Savchuk said: ‘We are angry because we know that our energy system does not work well, we understand that Russian rockets are the main problem. But we also know that there are a lot of inefficiencies in the system that lead to an even worse result. That has nothing to do with our willingness to go through these things because we know what is at stake.”

However, he claimed that the West is “finally waking up” and sending these power generators, which can keep local substations that distribute water and heat running, allowing basic utilities to work during complete blackouts. He also warned that this will not be able to “sustain” everyone, but added that at least five or six cities in Ukraine should be handed this lifeline. 

He said: “Generators and Elon Musk’s Starlink satellites will help us to run basic utilities off the grid, making life bearable. It is difficult, but it is ok. The situation is tough and we hope that Western partners will keep on supplying repair tools so we can keep on working on the grid. Even if we only have power for two hours a day, it is still better than not having it at all.”

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But instead of leaving the citizens in a state of disarray on Christmas Day, Mr Savchuk said that residents are getting on with their lives and showing great resilience.

He said: “Russia made a big mistake. It put us into blackouts very slowly and now it is the new normal. I cook my meals on the gas stoves I bought from the shop, all my internet comes from my phone, I go to offices with diesel generators to get electricity there. People adapt. 

“More than 300,000 generators have got imported into Ukraine and this has really changed our daily lives. When you walk around the city, you hear the noises coming from the generators all over. This is how small businesses are coping, running their shops out of them and everything around us is powered by them…people are coping.”

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