As winter approaches, many Ukrainians are expecting a difficult winter, with fresh rounds of Russian missile attacks aimed at forcing Ukraine’s civilian population to capitulate.

In a recent interview, Kyiv’s spy chief, Kyrylo Budanov, said that Russia hasn’t changed its intention to plunge Ukraine into darkness and this winter – Ukrainians will once again face a battle for electricity.

Children use flashlights as they attend a meeting of their literature club in a public library during a power outage in Irpin, northwest of Kyiv, on December 23, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Photo: AFP

Speaking of Russia’s missile arsenal, Budanov said that “the reserve they restored is not as significant as they started with of course, but it is sufficient to create very real problems in our energy sector.”

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There continue to be daily drone and missile attacks on Ukraine. Like the Russian missile strike on a mail depot that killed six on Sunday.

Or a couple of weeks before when a Russian missile strike on a funeral killed 52 people in Hroza – about 15 percent of the small Kharkiv region village’s population.

Local resident Serhiy mourns over the body of his spouse Svitlana who died in a Russian strike that destroyed a shop and a cafe in the village of Hroza. Photo: AFP

But that said, in the capital at least, there’s been a relative lull. Lately, one doesn’t hear air raid sirens every day, but maybe every other week.

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Kyiv Post interviewed several people on the streets of the Ukrainian capital, asking them their thoughts on the topic.

“Something is being prepared, and we expect it to start at the beginning of the heating season. Something new and nothing good,” 64-year-old Iryna told Kyiv Post.

Alina and Iryna. PHOTO: Kyiv Post

“I think this silence has to do with the accumulation of the arsenal. Yes, it is like silence before the storm. There will be something similar to what happened in March, April, and then in May. There will be massive shelling. Since winter is coming, they will target the energy infrastructure.” 21-year-old Valeriy said.

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“There is a feeling that Russian troops are amassing ammunition for massive shelling. We expect a repeat of last year's scenario. I think it will start in mid-November, probably. But it could start any day,” said 34-year-old Alina.

For many Ukrainians, Oct. 10, 2022, is nearly as salient in memory as Feb. 24 – the day Russia began its full-scale invasion. On that day, the Kremlin launched 84 cruise missiles and 24 suicide drones at Ukraine, leaving little of Ukraine’s population unaffected.

Some of those missiles even managed to land in the center of Kyiv –hitting various cultural and academic buildings near Taras Shevchenko Park as well as a playground.

Air raid sirens sounded throughout the day. And hits on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure engulfed many streets in darkness.

This photograph taken on December 24, 2022, shows a general view of a residential area in the city of Kramatorsk, eastern Ukraine, at night, as the city undergoes an electrical power outage amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Photo: AFP

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The attacks would continue.

By Nov. 19, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, as temperatures dropped to freezing, nearly half of Ukraine’s power grid was out of commission and some 10 million Ukrainians were without electricity.

Eventually, the winter of 2022 and its ability to be weaponized passed. While Russian attacks on Ukraine’s power grid never stopped, they have been less intense. Along with that, thanks to support from Western allies, Ukraine has been more capable of shooting down Russian missiles and drones.

Nearly half of Russia’s missiles and drones were getting through to their targets on Oct. 10.

But less than a month later, Ukraine was shooting down over 80 percent of the drones and missiles heading its way. Of the 55 missiles Russia shot at Ukraine on Halloween of last year, 45 were intercepted.

“[There are no shellings in Kyiv] because we have new air defense systems. They stopped because we have Patriots (US-provided surface-to-air missiles) now. But also we have no choice – either we will be destroyed or we will kick them out. Suppose we started negotiations – will they stick to them? Never. So there is no other way. Just like in Israel,” said 64-year-old Victoria.

“And also [it is calm now] because our air defense has improved. But even if there is shelling, it will not radically change the situation. We had it before. It won't be worse. This year, people are more prepared mentally and physically – most have already purchased everything they need. So the prospect is not very frightening,” 25-year-old Liudmyla said.  

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Most of Ukraine’s power grid has been restored since last winter, and as it turned out, Moscow’s attacks, by and large, served more to anger Ukrainians and harden their resolve than to make them submit.

 “The Russian scum is preparing. Of course, there will be shelling. Maybe it will worsen in the energy sector, but we are ready. Everyone knows about it and understands everything. I have prepared a generator, fuel, etc.” said 20-year-old Danylo.

Danylo and Liudmyla. PHOTO: Kyiv Post

“The rushists (derogatory term for Russians) are accumulating [missiles]. They are preparing for the fall and the winter. This is, of course, frightening. But we hope this year will be better. Last year, it was shock and fear. Now we have weapons and help,” said Iraida, 66

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Comments ( 1)

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Duarte Simões
This comment contains spoilers. Click here if you want to read.

The day will come in which western ruzzian Power Grids will be targeted in earnest and destroyed too. It's not at all difficult. Time for the ruzzians then, to freeze to death, have cold meals in the darkness and meet their dark end stuck in some elevator.

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