Deadly winter awaits Ukraine amid low temperatures and energy crisis

Millions of Ukrainians are facing a deadly winter, and it’s not just the risk of being hit by Russian bombs.

Power outages caused by Russia’s heavy shelling of the country’s infrastructure are combining with freezing winter weather to create a deadly cocktail, the World Health Organization has warned.

“This winter will endanger the lives of millions of people in Ukraine,” according to Dr. Hans Henri Kluge, regional director for Europe at the United Nations health agency.

Average winter temperatures in Ukraine hover around 27 degrees Fahrenheit and are expected to reach minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit in parts of the country in the coming months, the WHO said.

“Simply put, this winter will be about survival,” Kluge said in a statement. “Maternity wards need incubators. Blood banks need refrigerators. Intensive care beds need fans. And they ALL require energy.”

Rescue teams tackle a fire after strikes hit critical infrastructure near Kyiv in November, one of dozens of similar attacks across Ukraine. Emergency service of Ukraine / AFP – Getty Images

Russian forces have heavily attacked power plants and electricity supplies in recent weeks, plunging much of Ukraine into darkness as Moscow was forced into humiliating battlefield withdrawals, including a full withdrawal of the key southern city of Kherson.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also urged Ukrainians in his evening address to do everything possible to conserve energy use, particularly during peak hours. So far, more than 6,500 civilians have been killed during the course of the war and more than 10,000 have been injured, according to the UN.

Last week, he said a quarter of the population, some 10 million people, were without power.

Millions of Ukrainians face severe power outages after recent waves of Russian missile and drone strikes have left nearly half of Ukraine's power infrastructure disabled and in need of repair, as temperatures drop and the capital, Kyiv experiences the first winter snowfall.
The elderly receive food and gloves from a charity in Kyiv on Saturday. Some 10 million people across the country are without power.Jeff J. Mitchell/Getty Images

In addition to the huge displacement of people within Ukraine and the movement of refugees to other countries, an additional 2 million to 3 million people could leave their homes in search of warmth and safety, the WHO added.

Hundreds of thousands of homes, schools and hospitals have no gas supply. Some in Kyiv rely on food deliveries amid regular power outages, while others use small gas-powered camping stoves. Some are already opting for two sleeping bags each for the night.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said earlier this month that the city was preparing more than 1,000 heating points in case its district heating system was completely disabled. Kluge warned that many will turn to alternative heating sources, such as burning wood or coal, or using gasoline-powered generators, all of which release toxic gases.

Lack of electricity and gas services in Izium
A family from Izyum collects firewood for warmth in October. For many in Ukraine, basic services are not available. Wolfgang Schwan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Russia showed no signs of slowing down its bombing campaign even as it emerged that it signed a deal to get more armed drones.

Two US officials and a Western official confirmed that Iran has agreed to help Russia manufacture the armed drones, as previously reported by The Washington Post. This could represent a significant boost in firepower for Russia’s embattled military, which has suffered a series of humiliating defeats.

Ukrainian authorities say the remains of the Shahed-136 drones, which are equipped with a warhead and fly directly towards their target, have been found at the site of bomb attacks across the country.

Russia has yet to comment on the deal.

Image: Kherson emerges from eight months of Russian occupation
Residents sort donated clothes at a relief center Monday in Kherson. The city was recently retaken by Ukrainian forces following a Russian withdrawal. Chris McGrath/Getty Images

The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said in an overnight update that its forces repelled Russian attacks in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, two areas of eastern Ukraine that have been disputed since pro-Russian separatists They declared them independent in 2014 but are now the target of a Ukrainian counteroffensive.

Russia’s aerial bombardment of the country continues with 81 shells hitting the Zaporizhzhia region on Monday and more than 100 hitting the northern regions of Sumy, local officials said.

darina mayer Y they shine contributed.