Russia's war on Ukraine: Despite Vladimir Putin's attempt to shell Ukrainians into submission, they remain resolute and so must we – Steve Cardownie
I spoke to my relatives in Kyiv over the weekend who assured me that despite the Kremlin’s attempts to plunge the country into darkness, they are resolute and will continue to defy Putin’s latest offensive. Living in Vasylkiv, on the outskirts of Kyiv, they have to endure regular six-hour blackouts with no heat or light, as the Russians pin their hopes on demoralising the Ukrainian population to such an extent that they will “throw in the towel”.
As far as my in-laws are concerned, this is a forlorn hope and they and their neighbours are trying to take steps to mitigate the freezing cold that is enveloping the town as winter begins to tighten its grip. They have remained relatively cheerful despite the deprivations they face, secure in the knowledge that Ukraine will prevail, and their freedom will be protected.
My brother-in-law, who serves in the Ukrainian armed forces, said it was a great weight off his mind that his boy was safe in Scotland. Knowing that his son is in Edinburgh enjoying his time at Leith Academy has left him free to concentrate on the job in hand – defending his country.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned that the Russians will not desist from targeting the civilian infrastructure saying that “as long as they have missiles, they, unfortunately, will not calm down”.
Despite Moscow saying it does not target civilians, it said last week that Kyiv could “end the suffering” of its population by meeting Russia’s demands. Indeed, this was emphasised by Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov who said that blackouts and Russia’s strikes on energy infrastructure are the consequences of Kyiv’s unwillingness to negotiate. These statements clearly demonstrate that Russia’s tactic of hitting power supplies is purely designed to make the Ukrainian population suffer, nailing their own lie that they do not “target the civilian population”.
The missile attacks last week caused a great deal of damage which left millions of people without light, water, or heat just as temperatures plummeted to below freezing. The mayor of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko, stated on Sunday that hundreds of emergency generators had been provided and hundreds of centres had been set up in the city, allowing civilians to stock up on food, water, battery power and other essentials.
Reuters reported that Sergey Kovalenko, head of the Yasno, the major private energy provider for Kyiv, said that workers are rushing to complete repairs before the winter cold arrives, stating in a post on his Facebook page that “I would like everyone to understand: Ukrainians will most likely live with blackouts until at least the end of March”.
Thankfully the hardships of the war will not be so keenly felt by the thousands of Ukrainians who have reached the safety of Scotland, although being deprived of the ability to meet with loved ones is still a heavy price to pay. Ukrainians here try to keep in regular contact with loved ones back home but, as Christmas approaches, family separations will be keenly felt.
Although the war may have dropped down the “pecking order” for some media outlets, we cannot, must not, lose sight of the fact that it is still being played out and Ukrainians still need our unconditional support.