Vladimir Putin does not forgive the humiliations to which the Ukrainian Army is subjecting it on the combat front and this Tuesday, when the country was waking up from the hangover for liberating Khersonthe Kremlin’s missiles plunged it back into darkness after a coordinated attack on power plants in several cities.
kyiv, Kharkov, Lviv, Poltava, Odessa or Kryvyi Rih – the city where Zelensky was born – reported bombings simultaneously after four in the afternoon, the time at which it gets dark in Ukraine at this time of year.
In Kharkiv, the second largest city in the country, the air-raid sirens were wailing non-stop throughout the morning. There was talk of Russian TU-22 planes taking off near the border – located just 40 kilometers away – and people were asked to heed the warnings and take cover.
The attack finally came. Two huge detonations rocked the center of the city. The light began to flicker, and within a few minutes the entire city was plunged into darkness. Electrical blackout.
Hitchhiking to go home
When going out into the street after the bombings, the image was gruesome. Dozens of people crowded at bus stops hitchhiking to return home. And all the lanes of the wide avenues that run through the city were clogged by hundreds of vehicles that, without traffic lights regulating traffic, moved in turns as best they could.
When the electrical network fell, the subway stopped working. Also the trams, which were abandoned in the middle of the road. Getting a taxi at that time was almost impossible, not even by bidding exorbitant amounts of grivnas on the apps used to request a ride.
Many citizens undertook walks of several kilometers to return to their homes, illuminating the sidewalk with the flashlights of their mobile phones. Some crossed between the traffic. Others decided to wait a little longer by hitchhiking. The picture was apocalyptic.
Everyone knew that electricity would take hours to restore. The missiles had hit the Number 5 power plant, the largest in the city. Igor Tejerovthe mayor, issued a brief statement through a social network to confirm the attack and warn that “the power supply, electric land transport and the metro” were cut off.
No news from Poland
Two hours after the explosions, Kharkiv was a ghost town. There were hardly any cars left on the road and no one could see people on the street. All the stores had closed, and the only thing that stood out in the dark were the lights of a gas station. Gas stations have their own generators, and can work even if there is no electricity.
Upon entering, the clerks were serving coffees as if nothing was happening, as if they had not bombed –once again– barely six kilometers from where they were. And the queue of people waiting to pay went around between the shelves. It was the only place for miles around where you could get some food, hot drinks, or batteries for your flashlights.
Four uniformed soldiers were also waiting their turn to order a coffee. “Do you know if there have been any injuries at the power plant?” I ask. The youngest replies that he has no information about the Kharkiv attack, but that kyiv has confirmed that in the capital there have been fatalities. He also talks about the fact that there is no electricity in Moldova either. No one yet knows that two of the 90 missiles launched by the Kremlin have fallen on polish soiland that we had never been closer to World War III before.
It is 18:27 and the air raid sirens go off again. Although we are more than used to it here, after a bombardment its sound is more restless than usual. It is also disturbing to think about how we are going to spend the next few days, in which temperatures are going to drop several degrees below zero, if the damage to the electrical network is not repaired.
Critical supply situation
The balance of the massive attack on Tuesday against the critical infrastructure of Ukraine leaves a balance of 15 damaged electrical installations, and there are more than seven million homes that were left without electricity supply.
During the afternoon, the Governor of the Kharkov province, Oleg Sinegubov, assured that it would not be possible to reconnect the electricity throughout the night taking into account the damage, and that there could also be water cuts. “If in ten or twelve hours we manage to restore the power supply, the situation will stabilize. Otherwise we will make a decision on ‘plan B’ and put the water pumps in emergency mode,” he warned.
“Now we are also answering the calls of people who have been locked in the elevators. All our operators are working intensively to stabilize the situation as soon as possible.”
And boy did they work. To everyone’s surprise, electricity was restored at ten o’clock at night in Kharkiv. However, the state of the power grid, which was already critical since the previous massive attack on October 10, now hangs by a thread.
The Kremlin destroyed 30% of the electrical infrastructure from Ukraine that day. He used 84 missiles and several dozen Shahed-136 drones and managed to cause a blackout from end to end of Ukraine. Since then, in the cities of kyiv and Kharkiv, daily power cuts – lasting several hours – have been scheduled to prevent the network from collapsing.
After this new attack, everything indicates that the situation will be even more complicated for the civilian population, at the gates of the cold winter, and in the middle of a war that seems to be far from over.
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