A state of emergency was declared in Ladyzhyn, which is hundreds of kilometres away from the frontline. This town, where 18,000 people lost their heat for one week, has now been placed into effect.
The only heat source for the residents is their private coal-based thermal power station. This plant has been repeatedly attacked by Russia, as have other energy facilities in Ukraine.
On 23 November, the latest strike left town without heat and blackouts. Although power was restored to the town on Thursday, it took some time for residents’ homes to be warmed up.
Ladyzhyn’s residents remain wary, concerned about the possibility of another Russian missile strike on their infrastructure.
Residents began to use electric heaters when temperatures dropped below freezing. However, intermittent blackouts rendered them useless.
Many Ukrainians living far away from the frontline fear losing access to warmth. Ladyzhyn was the first one to confront this reality.
Mariia Buzynovska, 70, says that her heater keeps shutting itself off because it doesn’t have electricity.
The woman was at one of Ukraine’s “invincibility station”, where they allow people to come and get warm, recharge their phones, drink tea, or pick up ration packs.
Generators now hum across the main square of the town, and wood burners heat the tent.
Mariia sipping from a cup of tea, says, “At night, I have headaches, and my ears ache, so I take pills.” As you all know, hunger and cold don’t mix well in this weather. To withstand the cold, I dressed in blankets and clothes to keep me from getting sick.
The internet allows residents to work from home, while the less fortunate can get rations, blankets, and beds.
According to Iuliia Kamenyuk (deputy chief of Ukraine’s state rescue agency in central Ukraine, Vinnytsia), “The ration includes hygiene products, water, and any other basic medications that might be required,” Ladyzhyn’s location being located is described.
The most challenging time was likely in the initial days following the shelling. The entire supply of water, heat and electricity was lost.
Ladyzhyn was a peaceful and prosperous town for Mariia. Its largest enterprise is its thermal power station. All that changed in 2014. In 2014, war broke out in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas. Mariia felt that a Russian invasion could happen.
Pavlo Palahuta (40), is also pictured in the tent. He was evacuated during summer from Slovyansk, the easternmost city.
He sought refuge from the conflict, but Russian bombardment and its aftermath landed him in this place as well.
He is among more than 6.5 millions internally displaced persons in Ukraine.
He says, “The boiler won’t work right now due to the electric off.” But I fill the bottles with hot water and close them tightly. Then I wrap a few of the bottles under a blanket to keep warm until the end.
I wrap them myself. They stay warm for up to five hours if they are left alone. I am fully clothed when I go to bed.
Vinnytsia’s military administration works now to provide additional heating sources such as individual convection heaters and portable boiler houses. It could take as long as a month.
Lyudmyla Holowitzych is the chair of the military administration. She tells BBC they have been discussing diversifying energy for over a decade.
The issue of survival became urgent when Russia’s military started firing missiles at local infrastructure in this year.
The outside temperature dropped to below zero, and the indoor temperatures inside homes plummeted as low as 8C.
Ladyzhyn authorities claim that this will change soon now that heating has returned, though many people are still not feeling it.
People are still praying that the Russian missiles will not strike again after more than one week in the freezing freezer.