Ukrainians are enjoying the onset of spring. The nights are still cold, but they are emerging from a winter of Russian missile strikes that have cut their power, heating and their water too.
The winter was very hard but it was now over, declared President Volodymyr Zelensky. Ukraine still had heat and the country was unbreakable, was the message.
Until Thursday, Ukraine had just gone for more than three weeks in a row with no blackouts and and even had surplus in the system.
There had been no Russian attacks for three weeks either, and it looked as if Vladimir Putin’s battle to bring down Ukraine’s supply was over.
“Yes, we’re doing it, but who started it?” he said in December, pinning the blame on Kyiv.
It was a far more desperate story at that point. As much as half the energy infrastructure was damaged and a Ukrainian nuclear security expert warned the situation was close to critical.
But during those weeks of quiet, Russia had been stocking up weaponry. In the early hours of Thursday it fired 81 missiles and left four regions grappling with emergency power cuts. By Friday, half a million people still had no power in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-biggest city.
“It’s totally cold now. We have food, but only part of it has been cooked,” said Oleksii as he watched the battery life on his mobile phone slip to 14%.