Kyiv says it ‘won’t let Putin steal Christmas’ as Russian attacks threaten bleak winter in Ukraine

November 30, 2022 7:05 am

Blackouts have hit Kyiv in recent weeks as Russia launches missiles at Ukraine's energy grid. [Source: CNN News]

The mayor of Kyiv has said the city “cannot let Putin steal our Christmas” as Ukrainians prepare to tentatively celebrate the festive season with darkened trees while Russian airstrikes knock out power and wreak havoc on critical infrastructure.

Christmas trees will be erected across the Ukrainian capital to mark Christmas and the New Year, Kyiv’s mayor Vitaly Klitschko told Ukrainian news outlet RBC-Ukraine, but energy company YASNO said they will not be illuminated.

Mass events will remain prohibited under martial law, but “no one is going to cancel the New Year and Christmas, and there should be an atmosphere of the New Year,” Klitschko told the network. “We cannot let Putin steal our Christmas.”

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His call comes after weeks of sustained aerial attacks on Ukraine’s energy grid, which have left families across the country without electricity, light or water intermittently.

Officials are racing to restore resources quicker than Russia can knock them out. Ukraine’s electricity operator Ukrenergo said Tuesday that it was running at a 30% deficit, 3% higher than the day before, after it had implemented a series of “emergency shutdowns” across the country at “several power plants.”

Kyiv’s Christmas trees will provide a nod to normality in sites across the city, including the famous Sophia Square. Klitschko said they will be installed “to remind our children of the New Year mood.”

“You know, we do not want to take away St. Nicholas from children,” he said.

But YASNO has clarified that the trees would erected but without lights. In a short statement on Facebook the company said: “We do not know how about you, but we are glad that there will be [trees] and a decision on the absence of illumination on them.”

YASNO cited the load a full illumination would place on the Ukrainian grid, saying it will “reduce a significant additional load on the grid. And, consequently, reduce the number of blackouts.”

Given deteriorating weather conditions, power usage is on the rise, Ukrenergo said, saying that it hoped the power deficit would reduce as “units return to operation.” Seven waves of Russian missiles contributed to the latest round of outages, it claimed. CNN is unable to independently verify the number of missile waves.

But the race to plug gaps in the power grid is likely to be a recurrent theme as Ukrainians brace for a cold and dark winter. As recently as Sunday, Kyiv had “almost completely restored” its power, water, heat, internet and network coverage, the Kyiv city military administration said at the time.