By Rostyslav Averchuk
Lviv, Ukraine, Dec 15 (EFE).- More Ukrainians are relying on firewood to heat their homes as the country’s energy infrastructure is battered by Russian missile and drone attacks ahead of a bitter winter.
When the eastern city of Kramatorsk was left without gas after the only gas pipe from northern Kharkiv was damaged during combat, Valentyn didn’t panic.
Having stocked up on firewood over the summer, he believed he was prepared for the cold winter season despite regular shelling by Russia and warnings that gas supplies might not be restored for months.
Valentyn decided not to leave his home of 60 years when the conflict came to his doorstep, he tells Efe.
Although Kramatorsk’s gas supply has since been restored, firewood stocks could yet prove useful in weathering future Russian attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure.
Compounding the physical toll of Russian shelling is the economic one.
A huge rise in unemployment and falling incomes means many Ukrainians are struggling to pay for energy despite government caps.
In Lviv, located in the country’s far west, many homes are equipped with stoves in each room that were designed to work on wood, but have run on gas for decades.
Until the invasion, they mostly stood idle as locals relied either on electricity-powered radiators or more cost-efficient home gas boilers to heat their apartments. Now, with power cuts lasting for hours on end and freezing temperatures, an increasing number of households are rediscovering how useful the stoves can be.
The residents of one of the buildings in central Lviv tell Efe that the stoves warm their households much quicker now that they are powered by firewood.
Even with rising prices, firewood is significantly less expensive than gas.
The government has created a centralized platform with a list of offers from various forestries to facilitate business.
Forestries located in the areas most affected by the war have been unable to maintain supplies due to the presence of mines in the area, and so western and central forestries have taken on much of the responsibility.
Other programs have been set by the government for the population in front-line areas to receive at least some firewood for free.
In Izyum and other liberated parts of Kharkiv, where infrastructure is still badly damaged, each household is entitled to receive 3 cubic meters of wood.
In Lviv, the more than 100 trees that fell during the latest heavy snowfall will be used to heat hundreds of ‘points of invincibility,’ heating stations installed throughout the city to provide shelter to those who suffer from emergency blackouts.EFE