Kyiv mayor says 'apocalypse' scenario possible this winter, but urges no panic

Residents should be prepared, but there was presently no need to evacuate as conditions remained stable.

 Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko attends an interview with Reuters, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine December 7, 2022. (photo credit: REUTERS/VALENTYN OGIRENKO)
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko attends an interview with Reuters, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine December 7, 2022.
(photo credit: REUTERS/VALENTYN OGIRENKO)

Kyiv's mayor warned on Wednesday of an "apocalypse" scenario for the Ukrainian capital this winter if Russian air strikes on infrastructure continue but said there was no need for residents to evacuate now, though they should be ready to do so.

"Kyiv might lose power, water, and heat supply. The apocalypse might happen, like in Hollywood films, when it's not possible to live in homes considering the low temperature," Mayor Vitali Klitschko told Reuters in an interview.

"The apocalypse might happen, like in Hollywood films, when it's not possible to live in homes considering the low temperature."

Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko

"But we are fighting and doing everything we can to make sure that this does not happen," the former boxer went on to say, raising his booming voice to drive the point home.

A harsh future

Even so, the picture is bleak: the capital lacks enough heated shelters to take in all 3.6 million residents in the event of complete outages and people should be ready to evacuate if the situation worsens, Klitschko said.

"We have prepared nearly 500 autonomous heating hubs at present... but for a city of 3 million, 500 points is nothing," he said.

 Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko speaks on his phone after an interview with Reuters, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine December 7, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/VALENTYN OGIRENKO) Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko speaks on his phone after an interview with Reuters, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine December 7, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/VALENTYN OGIRENKO)

Klitschko, a former world heavyweight boxing champion before entering politics, painted a picture of a harsh future ahead for Ukraine's more than 1,500-year-old capital.

He sketched out one possible scenario in which the city could be left without central heating until spring at a time when temperatures can fall as low as -15 degrees Celsius (5 degrees Fahrenheit).

"If electricity supply continues to be absent while outside temperatures remain low, we will unfortunately be forced to drain water from buildings," he said.

"Otherwise the water can freeze and break the entire water supply network, and buildings will then be totally unfit for further use."

The mayor urged preparedness

Klitschko urged residents to prepare emergency supplies of food and water, as well as to have clothes and documents ready for a quick departure if the heating supply is turned off.

 A view shows the city without electricity after critical civil infrastructure was hit by Russian missile attacks, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine November 23, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/SODEL VLADYSLAV) A view shows the city without electricity after critical civil infrastructure was hit by Russian missile attacks, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine November 23, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/SODEL VLADYSLAV)

However, he said there was presently no need to evacuate as the city only had a 20% power deficit and conditions remained stable.