KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — When massive, coordinated Russian bombing raids shook up towns and villages across Ukraine a week ago to spark a new phase in the Kremlin war, one attack left a huge crater in a popular children’s playground in Kiev and tore open a central intersection .
The next day traffic was flowing over the newly paved road and life in the capital was almost back to normal. The response to the new wave of attacks in Russia was to go back to work, walk in the warm autumn sun and tend the last crops from the summer vegetable gardens.
A similar scene played out that day in the central Ukrainian city of Dnipro, where city workers repaired a road overnight after it was destroyed by shelling during that coordinated attack.
“We worked all night, gnashing our teeth,” Dnipro Mayor Borys Filatov wrote on Facebook the day after the October 10 attack. The post contained before and after photos of where the strike had struck and the repairs completed.
“We will restore and rebuild everything. But our hatred will last for centuries,” he said.
The Ukrainians’ resilience in the nearly 8-month-old war remains unwavering, despite an increase in attacks that are as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s vengeful response to an explosion that damaged a bridge built in Moscow to the Kremlin-annexed Crimean Peninsula on October 8.
Russian missiles and Iranian-made drones hit at least 10 regions across the country two days later, targeting critical infrastructure such as power plants and waterworks in major urban centers. The barrage left 19 dead and more than 100 wounded in the most extensive attacks since the first days after the Russian invasion began on February 24.
On Monday, Suicide drones loaded with explosives hit Kiev againcausing residents to seek cover.
It is an intensified version of what has been a shift in Russian tactics to make life difficult for Ukrainians, especially for those far from the front lines.
But the more the Kremlin threatens to make the coming winter unbearable, the more Ukrainians seem to be uniting in their resolve to defeat Putin.
The Ukrainian government is pushing for a national reduction in energy consumption and, in some regions, for ongoing power cuts to repair damaged power plants and installations.
Ukrenergo, the state power company, reported that residents of the Kiev region reduced their daily average electricity consumption by 7% on Oct. 15, helping the utility avoid forced blackouts.
“This is a direct result of Ukrainians deliberately limiting the use of electrical appliances in the evenings,” the company said in a Facebook post on Sunday.
Danylo, 20, a student in Kiev, said he has reduced his electricity consumption at home “because we understand this is a way to protect ourselves from complete loss.”
Danylo, who declined to give his last name, added: “Now it is a trend to work towards a common victory,” he said.
Similar resilience can also be seen in the devastation and ruins along the front lines in eastern and southern Ukraine.
After withdrawing from eastern regions such as Kharkov, Russia has focused its attacks on Zaporizhzhya, Mykolaiv and surrounding towns nearly every night as a Ukrainian counteroffensive makes steady gains in the partially occupied southern flank.
Of all the Ukrainian territories that paid a heavy price in the war, the Saltivka neighborhood on the northeastern outskirts of Kharkov, the country’s second-largest city, has borne some of the greatest burdens.
About a third of Kharkov’s 1.4 million inhabitants once lived in the residential blocks of the area. But when Russian troops launched the invasion, they invaded to reach the edge of the neighborhood and fired on it with rockets and artillery. Dozens were killed.
Saltivka, especially the northern foothills, was besieged for months until barely a building remained without major damage, rendering large parts of the area virtually uninhabitable. Tens of thousands had to flee.
The remnants now wander like ghosts among the charred skeletons of what was once one of Ukraine’s largest residential areas. Despite what they have lost, many say they do not want to compromise with Russia to stop the fighting.
“Without victory, there is no Ukraine,” said Hryhorii Ivanovich, 67, as he rebuilt a brick wall on his balcony, which had been destroyed by a Russian missile, along with the front half of his living room. “There is no compromise, only Ukrainian victory.”
However, holding on to that determination is more difficult for those who have lost a loved one in the war.
Lyubov Mamedova, whose son was killed by a Russian land mine this month, said he had volunteered to fight at the start of the war, confident Ukraine would defeat the invaders.
Mamedova said, between tears, that Ukraine must continue to protect his freedom, which she said was important to her son.
“We will fight,” she said. “He always said, ‘The victory is ours.'”
While many Ukrainians remain steadfast in their determination to oust Russia by military means, some believe that a political solution must be sought to end the bloodshed.
Oleh Postavnychyi, 39, was filling water bottles from a public tap in a courtyard near his home in Saltivka, where he had stayed since the start of the war, despite his apartment being significantly damaged.
A diplomatic solution had to be found to end the violence, Postavnychyi said, but not one that will cede Ukrainian land.
“We have to find a compromise because neither (the Russians) nor we need this war,” he said. “Normal people shouldn’t suffer… but we can’t give them our territory. These are our territories. They were conquered not only by our great-grandfathers, but also by our great-great-grandfathers.”
Spike reported from Kharkiv, Ukraine.
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