- Kyiv mayor and former boxer Vitali Klitschko said the city is preparing for a brutal winter.
- 500 shelters for 3.6 million people and an overloaded power grid could mean “the apocalypse”, he said.
- But he appeared to hit back at Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who suggested Kyiv was unprepared.
The mayor of Kyiv applauded Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, acknowledging that an apocalyptic winter could come to the Ukrainian capital, but his administration is working to avoid it.
Kyiv mayor and Hall of Fame boxer Vitali Klitschko has fueled simmering tension with Zelenskyy with his tough remarks, a week after brushing off Zelenskyy’s criticism that Kyiv was not equipped for a harsh winter amid increasing Russian airstrikes.
In an interview with Reuters on Wednesday, Klitschko admitted that with just 500 heating centers for 3.6 million people, Kyiv may have to call for widespread evacuations in certain scenarios.
“Kyiv could lose electricity, water and heating. The apocalypse could happen, like in Hollywood movies, when it is not possible to live in houses due to the low temperature,” he said. Klitschko told Reuters on Thursday. “But we are fighting and doing everything we can to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
In the interview, Klitschko claimed that 152 civilians had been killed by Russian forces in Kyiv and that 678 buildings had been destroyed since the start of the Russian war on February 24. . According to the World Health Organization, Russia has crippled about half of Ukraine’s power supply.
According to Reuters, in a video message last week, Zelenskyy said Kyiv did not have enough heated shelters, which Klitschko called a “strange” message.
“It seems strange when we are united against a single enemy, but we start fighting inside the country,” Klitschko told Reuters last week, blaming Zelenskyy’s comments on “politics”.
On Thursday, Klitschko admitted that “for a city of 3 million people, 500 points is nothing”, in reference to the heated shelters set up by the city administration, but argued that it was more than other Ukrainian cities. Winter temperatures can drop as low as 5 degrees Fahrenheit in the dead of winter in Kyiv, Reuters reported.
“If the electricity supply continues to be absent while outside temperatures remain low, we will unfortunately be forced to drain water from buildings,” Klitschko told Reuters on Thursday. “At the moment there is heating in Kyiv, there is electricity…everything is working, there is no need at the moment (for evacuation),” Klitschko added.
The mayor told residents to stay calm, but be prepared for “various scenarios”.