Be prepared to evacuate but don?t panic, Vitaly Klitschko tells citizens of Ukraine's capital
Continued Russian strikes on Ukraine's power grid may bring about an "apocalyptic" scenario in Kiev, mayor Vitaly Klitschko told Reuters on Wednesday, but insisted that the authorities were doing everything they could and there was no need for residents to leave the city just yet.
"Kiev might lose power, water, and heat supply. The apocalypse might happen, like in Hollywood films, when it's not possible to live in homes considering the low temperature," Klitschko said. "But we are fighting and doing everything we can to make sure that this does not happen."
The former boxer admitted that "nearly 500" heating points set up by the government are "nothing" in a city of over three million. Residents should prepare emergency supplies of food and water and have clothes and documents ready to depart quickly if central heating is shut off, he added.
"If electricity supply continues to be absent while outside temperatures remain low, we will unfortunately be forced to drain water from buildings," Klitschko said. "Otherwise the water can freeze and break the entire water supply network, and buildings will then be totally unfit for further use."
He also said there was no need to evacuate at the moment, since the city only had a 20% power deficit.
Meanwhile, a US-based NGO coordinating humanitarian aid in Kiev told Newsweek that Ukraine's entire power grid could "collapse within weeks" if the attacks continued. Power could be off for "potentially weeks," said Michael Young of Mercy Corps, making major cities "almost unlivable over the next four months."
Russia began targeting Ukraine's energy grid in October, "as a reaction to Kiev's provocative attacks on Russian civilian infrastructure, including the Crimean Bridge and energy facilities," in the words of President Vladimir Putin.
The defense ministry in Moscow said the strikes were intended to degrade the ability of Kiev to transport troops, as well as weapons and equipment funneled into Ukraine by the US and its allies, to the battlefield by rail.