Outages are creeping up in Kiev. There is no Hollywood moment when the whole city goes dark or when the twinkling lights of an apartment building go out in unison.

Instead, these cuts happen sporadically, with a sense of tiresome unpredictability. Turn off electricity from one half of the building, but not from the other. They light up again, then go out again.

One side of the road will be lit; the other will be dark.

The people of this country and this city are well accustomed to devastation and nervousness. From the very first days of this conflict, it was clear that resilience runs through the Ukrainian national character.

But this is different. There’s no adrenaline rush when you get home and the heating isn’t working and you can’t cook.

And so we visit Poznyaki, a suburb of Kyiv, to see how life goes on when night falls and the electricity goes out.

Nina leads us to her apartment using her mobile phone flashlight. She is 66 years old and has a sense of energy and purpose.

Her apartment was shattered by shrapnel at the start of the war, but she shrugs off the memory as if it’s a scar to be proud of. “I am not afraid of anything. I’m at home – why should I be afraid of them? Let them fear us!”

But shutdowns are different.


She says that the apartment would be almost impossible to live in during the winter if there was no electricity for heating. – But we’ll live, we’ll see how it will be.

A candle is slowly burning near her.

Life goes on. Domestic cats and dogs come to us. Children are playing on the playground, their parents are standing by as the lights go out. And you realize once again how mobile phones have changed our lives – almost everyone now has a torch in their pocket.

At the top of the block is Victoria, who teaches English and is getting ready to teach by candlelight. She is determined to persevere, despite the hardships of life in this city, “because I am fighting for the rights of my people, my country. I am a patriot. I love my country. I’m from Kyiv and I’m Ukrainian.”


“We are resilient, we will endure”

Siarhei takes us to the basement of the building. There is a new generator, bought with money collected by residents. They also invested in a few wood burning stoves.

“I think you can still live here,” he tells me. “It is possible to survive somehow. We are living people, we will survive.”

Stubborn, but also exhausted and rich. Like the Blitz, when the myth of upbeat stoicism took over the reality of dread and fear, Kyiv is a mix of emotions. At the end of the day, you can accept that it’s your national duty to accept the blackout, but also be angry that you’re in this situation.


We meet Ksyusha when she crosses the road with her husband and two children. She is an English teacher and lives in an apartment near a busy road. When she begins to speak, the words tumble out, laced with weariness and emotion.

“We don’t have electricity. There is no gas in our half of the house. I have a small child and I can’t cook, I can’t feed him. This is very bad.

“I can’t work because my job is online. I need electricity, but I don’t have it. So at the end of this month, I hope I can earn money to buy food for my family.”

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“Life is impossible”

How hard is life, I ask.

“It’s not difficult, it’s impossible. I think it is impossible to live in such a situation, in such a difficult, strange situation, because this is Kyiv, this is the capital of Ukraine.

“Can you imagine how people live, for example, in a village or another town? It’s very hard, but it’s better. They can light a fire there, cook food, but we can’t even do that.”

It is too easy to generalize about Ukrainians as a nation where every pain is accepted and every difficulty is a step towards victory.

But in reality, life here is difficult for almost everyone – emotionally, financially and physically. All over Ukraine, people do dream of victory, but they also long for the simple pleasure of everyday normalcy.