A teenager’s challenge sums up Ukraine’s resilience in the face of Russian onslaught

By Felix Hoske and Anna Voitenko

MOSHCHUN, Ukraine (Reuters) – In a village devastated by Russia’s abortive assault on the nearby city of Kyiv in March, Kateryna Tyshchenko lives in a cramped temporary housing container next to the ruins of the family home of her fiancé which was destroyed by an artillery shell.

Tyshchenko, 18, shares the container with his in-laws, fiancé and nine-year-old half-sister. Regular power outages caused by Russian strikes on Ukraine’s vital infrastructure mean they can only sporadically heat their tiny makeshift home.

Next week, nighttime temperatures are expected to drop below zero in the village of Moshchun, where some residents complain of having to fetch firewood from a mined forest to heat their homes.

Tyshchenko, who does not own a wood-burning stove, says she has no idea what awaits her, but has no intention of abandoning her home and village this winter, even if things get worse.

“Even if we don’t have power for good, we will endure it and survive. We just don’t want to be bombed – all we can endure. The most important thing is that the (Russians) don’t come back. A other than that, it’s fine,” she said.

As the war enters its ninth month, Russia is hammering energy infrastructure with drones and missiles, leaving millions of Ukrainians without electricity or even access to running water in a country where winter temperatures regularly reach – 15 degrees Celsius.

Moscow said last month it had launched strikes against energy, military and communications infrastructure in retaliation for what it called a “terrorist” attack on the Russian bridge to Ukraine’s annexed Crimean peninsula.

Ukraine says the Russians are the “terrorists” and it is waging a defensive war for its survival.

Despite the hardships, many ordinary Ukrainians are enduring and adapting, and there are few signs so far of civilians turning against their leaders or pressuring them to negotiate a quick end to the conflict.

EMERGENCY BREAKDOWNS

Moshchun, which is surrounded by pine forests and had a pre-war population of 800, was never fully occupied but saw heavy fighting before Russian troops withdrew in late March. Some 650 to 700 residents still live in Moshchun, the local mayor said.

Tyshchenko fled Moshchun on March 4 and returned in April to find her home destroyed. Her own parents are now living with friends as she moved into the container housing set up by volunteer activists in September.

Moshchun, located a few miles (km) north of the capital Kyiv, was particularly affected by Russian airstrikes on national infrastructure that began on October 10.

Authorities say 40% of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure has been badly damaged, forcing them to introduce blackouts. At such times, Tyshchenko’s household cannot use their only electric heater, and cellphone signals are cut off.

“I hope volunteers will bring us a wood boiler before the onset of winter,” said Tyshchenko, unemployed since the invasion. She postponed her wedding plans until she and her fiancé had a suitable home.

“We had no electricity at all for a month and a half (when we returned to Moshchun). We lived here without crying or complaining.”

A roving dental service operating out of the back of an ambulance traveled to the village this week, using a generator given to them by locals to power their tools as there was no electricity.

“Yesterday the pain in my tooth got worse. I thought I was taking medicine, but I didn’t know what pills to take,” said Antonina Telychko, a 70-year-old resident who had a bad tooth removed at the hospital. ‘hospital. ambulance.

“I thought I wouldn’t endure until the next day.”

PUBLIC RESOLUTION

Public resilience may prove a vital factor in the war, as Russia attempts to shatter Ukrainian morale and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy insists peace talks can only resume when Moscow returns all the lands he occupied.

Anton Gushetsky, deputy director of the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology, said polling data showed 86% of Ukrainians still supported the idea of ​​continued resistance against Russia.

The poll was taken nearly two weeks after Russia began its attacks on infrastructure and there is no evidence, so far, of any impact on Ukraine’s resolve to fight Russia, he said. -he declares.

“The winter months could affect the situation and maybe a few more people could support the negotiations… But we don’t (currently) see a tendency to make concessions with Russia,” he said. -he declares.

Tyshchenko is determined to stay put.

“My soul belongs here, this is my yard, and living here means I can work in my garden and my yard,” she said. “But when you stay with your friends, you can’t work in the garden because it’s not yours.”

(Writing by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Mike Collett-White and Gareth Jones)

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