Keeping 3 million people in Kyiv through winter – POLITICO

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KYIV – Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko has had a hard time as a heavyweight boxer before, but he is now at the end of his life, preparing the city to endure a freezing winter under Russian attack.

Russia “wants a Ukraine without Ukrainians,” he told POLITICO in an exclusive interview at his Kyiv City Hall office, adding that his compatriots must resist. “They want to freeze us, destroy our electricity, our heating, our generators.

“They do everything to keep the Ukrainians away, but these [are] our homes, our cities and we don’t want to leave,” he added.

Russian bombings have raised fears of a new wave of war refugees in western Ukraine and the EU, but Klitschko insisted morale was high in the capital. That said, he also pointed to his need for new air defense batteries, which could include the United States’ Patriot system.

Klitschko clarified remarks he and other Ukrainian officials made earlier this month, stressing he doesn’t want to see any of Kyiv’s more than 3 million residents leave or flee. Officials including Roman Tkachuk, director of security for the Kyiv municipal government, have raised the prospect of a mass evacuation in the event of a blackout. He then backtracked on his remarks.

At worst, if the Ukrainian capital is left without heating due to Russian airstrikes targeting the electricity grid and “if we cannot provide water and electricity”, then “I will ask people to study the possibility of move to homes in villages and neighborhoods around Kyiv where they can have water and warmth,” he said.

This is Klitschko’s worst-case scenario and he urges the townspeople that if they don’t want to leave they “must be prepared” and they must ensure they have enough stocked drinking water and batteries for charging mobile phones and other electrical devices. equipment.

Klitschko explained his winter plans in his office nine stories above Khreshchatyk, Kyiv’s main street where he joined the so-called Maidan protests eight years ago that led to the overthrow of Viktor Yanukovych, the Moscow satrap in Ukraine. “It was a different world,” he said.

Dressed in green camouflage with body armor propped up in the corner of an office full of boxing memorabilia and models for the city’s future construction projects, Klitschko said Kyiv was preparing a thousand centers – mostly schools and kindergartens – to shelter residents for the worst of times. They bought wood-burning stoves and generators to heat the shelters, although the schools were chosen because some already have independent heat sources.

Food, water and medical supplies are also stored. The city has already lost about half of its energy capacity to Russian missile strikes, and neighborhoods are experiencing pre-planned outages. Most areas have no street lighting – part of an effort to reduce energy requirements.

Klitschko rolls out a list of items Kyiv needs from Ukraine’s western allies to get through the winter: generators, sleeping bags, warm clothes, mattresses.

But, above all, he points out that Ukraine needs more air defense systems to completely block out its skies and prevent any missiles or drones from getting through. “We have to protect the sky above our heads,” he said.

He calls Russia’s focus on Ukraine’s power grid an act of terror. In Kyiv, the strikes also targeted the historic center “near our main university and kindergarten playgrounds”, he fumed.

“And that’s why we must now protect [the] sky above the heads of our citizens and that is why we need [more] air defense systems immediately,” he said. When asked if it would include the US Patriot system, he replied, “Yes, of course; we would love.

As he grabbed a hasty lunch – a single candy bar – he again underlined what he sees as the Russian objective: “They want people to be depressed and run away. And you know what’s interesting? Nobody leaves. They don’t achieve their goals. After the rocket attacks, people are no longer depressed, they are angry and ready to fight.

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