Ukraine: Authorities set up warm-up points – Politics

In the frontline town of Lyman in eastern Ukraine, they are due to start operating in the next few days: three warm-up points where residents of the war-ravaged town without electricity, heating or water can warm up, wash and, if necessary, spend the night. In a few rooms of a hospital, the city fathers have set up beds as well as two 1000-liter water tanks and two washing machines. A container-sized, wood-fired combined heat and power plant will provide heat from the courtyard, and a United Nations diesel generator will provide electricity.

What was initially planned only for war-torn towns and villages is now being prepared by Ukrainian authorities across the country in view of the Russian bombs on electricity plants, gas lines and other infrastructure and the possible total blackout of electricity and heating: refuge points where persevering Ukrainians can warm up and use their mobile phones can charge and get access to the internet and water.

For many Ukrainians, these places could already be vital for survival these days. On Wednesday, the Russian army launched another heavy rocket attack on the entire country. Air alerts had been sounded across Ukraine, with explosions reported particularly in the south and east. Several nuclear power plants are said to have shut down their reactors or been taken off the grid. The power went out in large parts of the country as well as in the neighboring Republic of Moldova. In the capital Kyiv, the water supply is said to have collapsed.

A good 4,000 such places, which the government dubbed “Points of Invincibility” and where the Ukrainians can now obtain water, electricity and heat, have already been prepared, according to President Volodymyr Zelensky; more are planned. “If there are massive Russian attacks again and it becomes clear that the power supply cannot be restored for hours, the invincibility centers will go into operation with all key services,” said the president on Tuesday in his evening report video message. “We must all be ready for any scenario, given the way the terrorists are fighting our people and what they are trying to do.”

Zelensky calls for donations for the “points of invincibility”.

Prime Minister Denys Schmyhal said on November 18 that after the wave of Russian attacks on November 16, half of the power supply had been destroyed or damaged. Volodymyr Kudritsky, head of the electricity grid operator Ukrenergo, now added that practically all large thermal power stations were damaged. Russian attacks on civilian infrastructure are war crimes; the First Additional Protocol to the 1977 Geneva Convention for the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflict such as expressly in Articles 51 and 52.

President Zelensky urged Ukrainians to side nezlamnist.gov.ua enter their address to find out where the nearest warm-up point is to be found. There is also information about which gas station, pharmacy, drugstore and which supermarket is still open. The President called on wealthy Ukraine to donate more generators, Starlink satellite internet receivers or just water to the “points of invincibility” or to open such centers themselves.

The warm-up points are a sign of perseverance, but hardly suited to get millions of people through the often bitter Ukrainian winter during a prolonged power outage. In Lyman, for example, a warm-up point is housed in a hospital. The 150-kilowatt generator set up in the courtyard is supposed to supply both with electricity, but it needs 16 liters of diesel every hour. Ensuring this supply is no small problem. There are forests all around Lyman, so wood for container heating is available. In the cities it is likely to be much more difficult to procure fuel.

The city administration of Kyiv has even planned to evacuate all the remaining residents of the Ukrainian capital in the event of a complete power failure that actually lasts for a longer period of time. Kyiv called on Ukrainians who had fled abroad not to return to their homeland for the time being due to the supply difficulties. As in eastern Ukraine, the government offered the residents of badly damaged cities such as Cherson or Mykolayw free evacuation by train – but many people don’t want to leave.

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