“Ukraine defends the whole of Europe and democratic values,” assures the mayor of Kharkiv

Ukraine defends the whole of Europe and democratic values assures

Russia has stepped up its airstrikes against Ukraine and its energy network. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky denounced what he called a “ missile terror ” and renewed his call for allies to provide more air defense systems. Among the most exposed localities: Kharkiv, the country’s second city, located a few dozen kilometers from the Russian region of Belgorod. Its mayor, Ihor Terekhov, responds to RFI.

3 mins

RFI: What state is Kharkiv’s energy system in?

This system is seriously damaged and repairing it in a few weeks is impossible. The state is doing everything possible to restore electricity supplies. But today it is very difficult, because not only the electrical substation was destroyed, but also the thermal power plants which generate this electricity.

On March 22, following the strikes, Kharkiv was plunged into darkness, with the energy system that powered the city completely destroyed. The electrical technicians managed to partially reconnect the city to the electricity supply. Today we are experiencing a shortage of electricity. Food is rationed, delivered over time slots.

As for transport, we have managed to get the metro running, but the trains run at significant intervals. Trams and trolleybuses are not operating at full capacity. We have managed to partially relaunch trolleybus lines. Today, we have relaunched two additional lines: these are mainly the lines that bring people to metro stations.

Businesses are operating, although some are hooked up to generators. But generally speaking, everything remains open: markets, shopping centers, supermarkets, shops in general, pharmacies, gas stations… Everything is working.

Last week, Russia struck Kharkiv for the first time with a large-caliber guided munition. What are the consequences ?

These missiles have a very significant destructive force. These bombings targeted residential neighborhoods and homes. There was a lot of destruction. Unfortunately, there were also deaths and injuries among the civilian population.

A missile exploding means a thousand windows broken, roofs destroyed, communication systems destroyed. The shootings mainly take place at night, when people are at home. This is done on purpose. After these shots, people seal their windows and go to spend the night with friends, if they can, but we do not observe a mass exile of the population of Kharkiv.

Last week, several Russian and Western media outlets published reports that Russia was preparing a major offensive against Kharkiv. What do you think of this information?

This information comes from Russian channels, which are now waging an information war against Ukraine. This is very serious, this is a real war. By these acts, the Russians want to intimidate the population. They will do everything possible to worry people, to scare them. We understand this very well and so do the people of Kharkiv.

We must resist this information war. We must not give in. Furthermore, I want to say that we believe in our armed forces. We see that today the army is completely different, it has transformed into two years of war and we understand this perfectly. After this information, our Commander-in-Chief, General Syrsky, made a statement. He said that we were ready and that an offensive on Kharkiv would be fatal for Russia.

The main thing is not what our adversary wants, but how we are going to resist him. But to win, we need serious military support. Today, Ukraine defends the whole of Europe and democratic values.