Ukraine’s capital city may face a long winter without heat, electricity or water that could force Kyiv residents to flee if Russia keeps up its attacks on Ukraine’s energy grid, officials warned.
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko issued the grim appraisal as the US nudges Ukrainian leaders to express a willingness to negotiate with Russia, and allies face possible “Ukraine fatigue,” according to a report.
Klitschko stressed to state media that officials were doing all they could to avoid a lack of necessities as freezing temperatures approach.
“But let’s be frank, our enemies are doing everything for the city to be without heat, without electricity, without water supply, in general, so we all die,” Klitschko said. “And the future of the country and the future of each of us depends on how prepared we are for different situations.”
Russia has hammered Ukraine’s energy infrastructure over the last month, leading to power shortages and rolling outages throughout the war-torn country. Kyiv and other parts of the region had planned hourly rotating blackouts on Sunday.
Klitschko even said Kyiv’s 3 million residents should prepare to leave the city and stay with family or friends in its suburbs that still have power and water in the event of a “worst case” scenario, the BBC reported.
He reportedly slammed Russia’s targeting of infrastructure as “terrorism” and “genocide.”
The former heavyweight boxing champ noted at least 1,000 heating shelters are being set up and officials were stockpiling fuel, food and water.
Kyiv’s Director of Security Roman Tkachuk backed up Klitschko’s statements in posts to the messaging app Telegram, but insisted “there are no reason to talk about the evacuation at the moment,” the BBC reported.
As colder months approach and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s eight-month-long invasion drags on, US officials are privately suggesting to Ukraine that it indicate openness to talks with Russia, according to the Washington Post.
Unnamed sources told the newspaper the US is not forcing Ukraine to consider a deal, but instead, that it would be a calculated measure to ensure Ukrainian leaders keep the support of other nations.
“Ukraine fatigue is a real thing for some of our partners,” one official said.
Last month Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky signed a decree stating that talking with Putin was “impossible,” but that it was still open to discussions with Russia. The ban on dealing with Putin has left countries in Europe, Africa and Latin America wary because of the rising prices of food and fuel from the war, US and Ukrainian officials acknowledged, according to the Washington Post.
A State Department spokesperson said if Russia wants to negotiate, it should stop “its bombs and missiles and withdraw its forces from Ukraine.”
“The Kremlin continues to escalate this war,” the spokesperson said. “The Kremlin has demonstrated its unwillingness to seriously engage in negotiations since even before it launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.”
Zelensky on Friday said his country was ready for a “fair and just peace,” the spokesperson pointed out.
Meanwhile Russian forces moved tens of thousands of civilians out of the southern city of Kherson as Moscow prepares for a Ukrainian counteroffensive; the territory was seized in the early days of the war.
Kherson residents received messages on their phone warning them to evacuate as soon as possible, Ukraine’s military said Sunday.
Russia has illegally annexed Kherson and three other regions.
With Post wires