‘A lot of infrastructure destroyed, the winter will be tough’

AP

Dnipro, Ukraine’s third largest city, was one of the cities hit by Russian missiles this morning. “This was not an attack on a few cities, but a massive attack on the whole country,” Mayor Boris Filatov said. “That was not the case even in the February 24 raid. Eight missiles have landed on us, mainly on civilian targets and facilities: the power plant, the heating and communication buildings. They are trying to destroy our infrastructure.”

Video footage of one of the impacts in his town has been widely shared on social media. “A total of four people have been killed and twenty injured are in the hospital. But there are also those who have not reported, so that number could rise to fifty.”

Kira Rudik, leader of the liberal Holos party in the Ukrainian parliament, also sees that the Russian army has specifically attacked important infrastructure such as electricity and heating stations. “They destroyed all our ability to survive this winter,” she says. “Before this, we had little hope that we would be able to make it through the winter with the supplies and energy systems we have. Now we know for sure that we won’t be able to keep everyone warm.”

Europe can therefore expect a new wave of Ukrainian refugees, she believes. “We have already discussed this with Polish politicians and authorities. Because we will not succeed in warming up the Ukrainian citizens and they will flee.”

With more planes, many more missiles could be stopped. With what we already have, we have already managed to intercept half of it.

Ukrainian MP Kira Rudik

Rudik expects Russia to continue its attacks for the foreseeable future to make up for losses on the battlefield over the past two months. “And we expect all European politicians who were tired of the war or thought it was over to reconsider and say: OK, let’s get going.”

In her view, an important part of this would be a plan to stop gas payments from Europe to Russia. “One of the Russian jokes about the war is that Europe is paying for the war out of both pockets: by helping Ukraine with weapons and by paying Russia for gas,” she says.

She also thinks it is important that Russia is recognized as State sponsor of terrorism (state sponsor of terrorism). Currently, four countries have been granted that status by the United States: Cuba, North Korea, Iran and Syria. “If Russia is also included, it will allow sanctions for countries that quietly support Russia,” Rudik said.

Fighter

She also calls on Ukraine’s allies to support her country with more effective weapons. “In the eighth month of the war, we ask for the same as on day one,” she says. “We’re asking for fighter jets, we’re asking for the long-range weapons we really need. You can see how effective we are when we get them.”

There would have been far fewer victims if Ukraine had already had those planes today, Rudik believes. “We could stop many more missiles. With what we already have, we’ve already managed to intercept half.”

Sending fighter jets to Ukraine has long been a topic of discussion in NATO. In March this year, Poland considered handing over fighter jets to Ukraine. It didn’t happen then because the US was afraid that Russia would see it as an act of war. It could even lead to Russia deploying tactical nuclear weapons, were the fears. Several countries subsequently began sending spare parts for aircraft to Ukraine.

Attacks are expected

That such an attack would come sooner or later, Dnipro Mayor Boris Filatov had already expected. Even if the attack on the Crimean Bridge never took place. “They had to show in front of their own audience that they can catch us,” he says. “They would have done it anyway, maybe not in this massive way, but we were prepared for them to attack our infrastructure.”

Rudik had also been expecting a counterattack for some time. “And our position has not changed: building the Crimean bridge was illegal. We are doing nothing but defending ourselves. We are trying to survive. We did not attack Russia: we just lived our lives and were attacked. Every day there will be Ukrainians killed purely because they are Ukrainians.”

Existential war

There is no question of giving up, say both Rudik and Filatov. “We are not afraid of them, but for us this is an existential war for the survival of our country, the survival of ourselves,” Filatov said. “We have no choice, we win or die, we don’t give up.”

Rudik: “I have not seen or spoken to anyone who talked about giving up. Everyone is talking about Russia having to pay for this.”

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