Ukraine intends to carry on the fight against Russian forces through the bitter winter, its foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba told NDTV today. Russian forces invaded Ukraine in February this year and this is the first time Ukrainian forces will be fighting through the winter, when temperature drops to sub-zero levels.
Asked if the winter will "lock down" the Ukrainian forces, Mr Kuleba, in an exclusive interview to NDTV, said, "We will not stop for a single day because every pause means more time for the Russians to dig into the ground, to build fortifications and to strengthen their defensive lines in the occupied territories of Ukraine".
"So, we will continue our operations but of course we are also human. Soldiers get tired. They are fighting for their land, they understand how high (the) stakes are and we will continue moving forward in every direction we can," he added.
While Ukraine has recently won a huge military victory in Kherson, a city in the south, Mr Kuleba said the Russian missiles are "specifically targeting" power plants and other energy infrastructure in "a deliberate attempt to create unbearable conditions for the civilian population to survive during the winter".
Giving an example of the hardships in store, the minister spoke of his own experience.
"It is minus 5 (degrees Celsius) in Kyiv, it's very cold, windy, a lot of snow and two weeks ago, when the entire Ukraine was blacked out, when I came to my home, to my apartment, there was no light, there was no water supply, there was no heating. So we used candles to light up the apartment. We bought fresh water to have something to drink, and to use for cooking purposes. And this lasted for… and it was extremely cold in the apartment I must say…and this lasted for a little bit more than 30 hours," he said.
"Now imagine that every new massive missile attack will cause a blackout that will last more and more days. And it will take more and more time to recover the system and to restart the supply of electricity. And while there is no electricity, people die in hospitals, because they do not have access to their basic needs," he added, underscoring that the Russians are trying to "terrorise the civilian population".
The Russians, Mr Kuleba said, have an edge because they have the maps of the Ukrainian electricity grid that was built in the Soviet era.
"They hit it one by one, knocking out one transformer after another. They do it in a very systematic way with only one purpose - to terrorise the population of Ukraine, to create unbearable conditions for civilians and to break us down. But they are not going to break us down. Whatever they do, we will survive and we will prevail," he added.