Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk asked her compatriots to stay away from the worsening energy crisis in the country
Ukrainians who fled the country amid Russia’s military offensive are not expected to return home until spring, Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk said on Tuesday. Staying away would protect them from unnecessary risk and help the country”to surviveits worsening energy crisis, she added.
Speaking on national television on Tuesday, Vereshchuk claimed that Russia was losing on the battlefield and therefore turned to “terrorize the civilian population” by targeting Ukrainian energy infrastructure.
“I will ask you not to come back, we have to survive the winter. Unfortunately, the power grids will not survive, you see what Russia is doing. You don’t need to. If you have the opportunity to stay, it is better to spend the winter abroad. Vereshchuk said.
She said she would like to see everyone come back in the spring to rebuild Ukrainian towns and villages together.
“Our children have to live and study here, but for now let’s stay back, because we understand that the situation will get worse and we have to survive the winter. We’ll survive the winter, and then we’ll think about everything else,” she added.
According to a poll released in late August by the kyiv-based Razumkov Center, more than 90% of Ukrainian refugees plan to return home at some point. More than 88% of those who intend to return plan to live in the same area where they lived before the Russian attack began on February 24.
Ukraine has been experiencing regular power cuts since Moscow launched massive strikes against its critical infrastructure, including power plants on October 10, accusing kyiv of terrorist attacks on Russian infrastructure. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has since asked his compatriots to ease the strain on the ailing energy system by limiting electricity consumption between 5 p.m. and 11 p.m.
On Monday, the head of state-owned energy giant Naftogaz, Yuri Vitrenko, said Ukraine was facing “the worst winter in history,” marked by “constant power outages.“He explained that the recent Russian airstrikes also hit oil refineries and destroyed”about 40% of power generation plants.
On the same day, Ukrainian online retailer Rozetka revealed that the past two weeks had seen a surge in demand for “necessary goods in the event of an energy crisis”, such as potbellied stoves, power banks, candles and gas burners.