Kyiv prepares for 'tough' winter as summer draws to a close

The war has taken a heavy toll on Ukraine's energy workers (Genya SAVILOV)
The war has taken a heavy toll on Ukraine's energy workers (Genya SAVILOV)

At a dusty construction site on the bank of the Dnipro river in Kyiv, workers busily prepared the heating system for the upcoming winter while it was still warm.

"Summer is over and we are preparing for the heating season... it will be a tough one," mayor Vitali Klitschko said Tuesday, as he inspected renovations to the heating system in central Kyiv's Podil district.

"Last year was one of the most difficult seasons, with more than 60 percent of our city's infrastructure damaged," he said.

Like cities across Ukraine, Kyiv's energy infrastructure was hit by waves of Russian strikes in the depths of winter.

Between October and March, Russia pummelled key facilities in Ukraine with missiles and drones, disrupting water, heating and electricity for millions of people.

The strikes on power facilities have mostly stopped since but the war has taken a heavy toll on Ukraine's energy workers.

"We have limited funding and workers are being sent to the army to defend our homeland," said Oleksandr Pelypyshyn, in charge of the heating network at local utility firm KyivTeploEnergo.

"And there are periods of air raid alerts, missiles. This all disturbs our work of course," he said.

City officials said more than 60 percent of Kyiv's infrastructure was ready for winter, and that large-scale repair works were ongoing.

Sitting in his excavator, 62-year-old Oleksandr Kulich watched the officials visiting with little emotion.

But the worker, sporting a thick white moustache, said he was proud of his work.

"I think, (our work) is even a contribution to our victory... because we are doing this work for life to continue," he added.