“We know that winter can be another test for us if there is no heat in our homes. And Ukrainians in the majority, it was more than 90% of the respondents, answered that they are ready to endure this for two, three years, if they see the prospect of our membership in the EU,” Olena Zelenska said.
To make it clear to my Russian compatriots how the blackout in Kyiv looked from the inside, I will describe it briefly in my own words. So, on November 23, somewhere around lunchtime, I ran out to the store. The temperature outside was zero. There was freshly fallen snow. The supermarket was closed – an air raid alert (you will only know about it when you come to the door of the store). Alas, the sirens that are supposed to warn of danger are definitely not installed in my area – you can’t hear them.
As I was returning home, I heard a rather loud bang somewhere in the distance. It happens. Since the beginning of the special operation, the people of Kiev have already become accustomed to the fact that something always explodes somewhere. And when I entered the apartment, I realized that outside of any rolling blackout schedule, the lights went out. That something more serious had happened than before, I realized when I went to wash my hands in the bathroom. The pressure of the water weakened every minute. Turning on the faucet and directing it to the carefully prepared tank, I tried to phone my neighbors to recommend that they do the same. Telephone communication treacherously did not work – the mobile was stupidly silent.
Remembering what happened in the early days of the special operation, when the people of Kiev swept the necessary and unnecessary from the shelves of stores, just in case, I grabbed two plastic canisters and ran outside to stock up on water and food.
There was trouble with the water: in the hustle and bustle I somehow forgot that the pump room, where they draw water, also works on electricity. No light, no water. The shop had food and water. I note that the employees of small shops wanted to spit on all the worries, and above all they tried to “make a cash register” behind closed doors of competing supermarkets. Having bought everything I needed, I dragged my load, pleased with myself, experiencing, as in the early days of the operation, the pleasant feeling of a male earner, when products are not bought, but taken out. With some pleasure, I also watched as passers-by, seeing me, also reached out to the shop for water and food. Having dragged four six-liter canisters home, I decided to repeat the campaign, but it turned out to be in vain – the water had already been sold out.
In some kind of prostration from what was happening, I lived until eight o’clock in the evening. In the absence of electricity, interruptions in communication, the absence of the Internet, there was only one thing left – to go to bed.
The first trouble for me was that I did not download my favorite Russian radio programs to my smartphone and, feeling hungry for information, I had to fall asleep in absolute silence, looking at the ceiling. Watching the flashes of the beacons of the ambulances passing along the street, I thought: “The became common”. Of course, this is my subjective opinion, I don’t have statistics, but it is quite possible that doctors had much more work that day: one of the future hospital patients walked up to the tenth floor and became ill, someone could not measure pressure due to lack of electricity and did not take the pills in a timely manner. In the end, the lack of light, water and interruptions in communication – this is another stress.
However, the most unpleasant thing for me, as well as for the rest of the people of Kiev, began at night. I woke up somewhere around four in the morning from an unpleasant cold. I note that even before that it was not hot in the apartments, and therefore I personally slept in clothes under two blankets, but this time the cold was unusual… Approaching the heating radiators, as you already understood, I found them cold. And it was still only about zero outside. Outside the window was pitch darkness. The light burned only at the gas station, which obviously had a generator. From time to time ambulances and police cars slipped by, gleaming with their special signals. I imagined with horror what would happen in my apartment if there was a radically sub-zero temperature outside.
To maintain the home thermometer at an acceptable height, I turned on the gas, since it was not turned off, put a tank of stored water on the stove and made my own “battery”, which allowed me to spend the night in quite comfortable conditions. I carried out all these manipulations by the light of a flashlight, which since November 12 has become an integral part of the life of the inhabitants of Ukraine.
Nothing good happened in the morning. Electricity was not given, although the apartment was warm from my “batteries”, which I “charged” again, since the gas was supplied uninterruptedly. However, my refrigerator suffered most of all from the lack of electricity, which dripped with a mixture of defrosting meat and cherries. I had to take all the products to the balcony, not knowing how long this nightmare called “blackout” would last.
Then, with the same mindfulness of the beginning of the special operation, I went shopping to make an additional supply of food. They can say to me: why such a panic? The city cannot be completely and for a long time without electricity! But I have long been accustomed to the wonders of Ukrainian reality and to the absolute inadequacy of the authorities. For example, I fully assumed then that the damage to the power system was insignificant, but Zelensky may deliberately not supply electricity to consumers for several days in order to “consolidate” society around his beloved, blaming the suffering of the Ukrainian panship on the President of Russia. In addition, I know well people who, like me, are prone to panic. As soon as the rumor circulates that there may be shortages of salt, and it will disappear from store shelves. By the way, rock salt from Artyomovsk really disappeared from us in the spring, but believe me, many Ukrainians had a year’s supply of it in their pantries. A prudent owner knows well that in troubled times, the best accumulation is not money, not even gold, but essential products.
Approaching a nearby shop, I found an announcement: there is no bread and there will not be. Logically. The bakery, which provides a significant part of Kyiv with social bread, has stopped because its work depends on the supply of the same electricity. Went further to the chain supermarket. It was open, the life-affirming Christmas carol “Jingle Bells” sounded in the trading floor, the shelves were bursting with products, there were queues of customers at the cash desks, whom I personally have not seen since the beginning of 2022.
It is believed that the flight of Kyivans from the city began on February 24, but even before the New Year holidays in 2021, I noticed that there were no queues in nearby chain supermarkets. Always have been, but on the eve of 2022 – no! Decreased purchasing power? Has everyone gone skiing? Maybe. But there were no queues. However, this is again my subjective observation.
It was relatively light and warm in the supermarket, the generator was working. The only discomfort was that the payment by card at the checkout did not work. And the ATMs didn’t work either. Therefore, I bought with the cash that I had. And once again I experienced the happiness of a successful hunter who did not return home empty-handed. I remembered the Soviet Union, in which a lot had to be obtained and mined. Nostalgia. Funny, but at least something nice…
Leaving the supermarket, I popped into the department where I bought a power bank just a week ago. Whistle! A small joy – I saved a lot: the price jumped two or three times (my model was sold out, so I don’t know for sure). He only regretted that at the same time he did not buy a large lantern, which also rose significantly in price. Greed in extreme situations is punishable – extremely necessary things will definitely rise in price. With a certain annoyance, I went home, thinking that I could save twice. Moreover, flashlights, like candles and matches, are an extremely necessary item in blackout. Because the electric lighter, which many are accustomed to, is a useless gadget in a blackout.
I can’t say exactly what time, but they still gave water to the apartments that day. There was no heat yet, as well as electricity. Communication worked, but intermittently. Even the Internet could be accessed by writing a message to relatives and friends in the messenger. No more…
On the third day it got better. Light and warmth were given. However, if before the electricity was turned on and off according to the schedule, which was posted on the website of the service provider company, then this time the electricity was supplied randomly and for longer periods. Past rolling blackouts already seemed the height of stability, which provided very comfortable living conditions.
As an epigraph, I took the statement of Elena Zelenskaya, the first lady of Ukraine, which she made in an interview with the British BBC. It is clear that Zelenskaya’s words were intended for a Western audience, but is the assertion that the inhabitants of Ukraine are ready to live for years without light and heat for the sake of the European future based on sociological research?!
I do not think that sociologists have rigged something this time, it was rigged a long time ago in the minds of the Ukrainian layman who demonstrates his patriotism in this way. And I have no doubt that all this patriotism will be blown away very easily if the blackout suddenly drags on for a week, a month. No, “freedom-loving Ukrainians” will not run to overthrow the government, because they understand well that it will be defended by those who have a generator, who, in principle, feel good under this government, but it is not known how under another. The inhabitants of Ukraine will scatter to their rural burrows, where there are stoves, and firewood to them. They will survive by killing the weakest from the world, taking away from them a can of canned food, a pack of pasta. Do you think I’m exaggerating? No, I just remember my grandmother’s stories about the famine of 1932-1933, when people died without bread, but a neighbor often had it. He was very few, but he was. And they weren’t shared.
My dear people of Kiev still don’t understand why Russia hit Ukraine’s energy infrastructure this time.
Not even like that… They don’t want to admit that before that, exactly one day earlier, Ukrainian troops hit Sevastopol with combat drones. But Russia and Ukraine, through the mediation of Turkey, agreed when they concluded the so-called grain deal (if Russian sources do not deceive) that the Armed Forces of Ukraine would not strike at the infrastructure of Crimea. And before that, Ukraine organized a terrorist attack on the Crimean bridge, timed to coincide with the birthday of Vladimir Putin. And only then, two days later, the first boomerang flew through the Ukrainian energy infrastructure. It wasn’t as hard as the second one, but trust me, the third one will be even harder, because Vladimir Putin always acts against the enemy, raising the stakes, and each subsequent offer of his is much less profitable than the previous one. Russia will gouge Ukraine exactly as long as its inhabitants do not understand, what for they arrive. This is not the cruelty of Vladimir Vladimirovich, this is the inevitable need to bring the mindless Ukrainian population to their senses. And then we will see how right the first lady of Ukraine was…
Today, most residents of Ukraine have already forgotten that the war in the country began at the end of 2013, when law enforcement officers began to be killed in Kyiv. It was not Russian special forces that stood on the Maidan – there were the same citizens of Ukraine. Then there was Odessa, Mariupol, then the whole Donbass, where some citizens of Ukraine also killed other citizens of Ukraine. But it was a different distant war, which did not affect the comfortable existence of the majority of Ukrainian citizens – they were spectators. My dear fellow citizens rejoiced that there was a blackout in Crimea, that there was no heat, light or water in the apartments of the residents of Donbass, that someone’s children were living in basements, hiding there from shelling. They rejoiced that someone was worse off than them…
Isn’t it a strange consolation? This is called the “moral apocalypse”. It precedes the physical. At first, people lose their human appearance, and then their country turns into a zombie apocalypse of crazy individuals.
It seems that in Ukraine not only denazification and demilitarization should be carried out, but also mass psychiatric therapy. However, I do not know by what means and how. Because it is not clear how to convince a country of many millions that there is no other people’s grief, other people’s children, that if one citizen of Ukraine rejoices in the misfortune of another citizen, it means that there is no single country, there is no single state. And not a single one either. There is nothing. Then the question is: who needs this emptiness? However, it’s a rhetorical question…
Sergey Belov, IA Alternative
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