The Stream

Is Russia trying to win the war in Ukraine by weaponising winter?

On Wednesday, December 7 at 19:30 GMT:
As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine enters its tenth month and winter sets in, Ukrainians are bracing themselves for a long season without heat and water. For months, Russia has been targeting Ukraine’s power plants and pipelines through repeated aerial bombardments.

Now, more than 10 million people across the country – a quarter of the population – are without power and half of the country’s energy infrastructure is either damaged or destroyed.

Russia has denied targeting civilians and said its attacks are aimed at the “military command system of Ukraine and related energy facilities.” But analysts say the goal appears to be to demoralise the population and pressure Ukrainian officials into concessions. However, the repeated bombings appear to have actually strengthened Ukrainian resolve against Russia.

Speaking to Al Jazeera recently, a Kyiv resident named Alyona said, “No one I know is ready to have negotiations with Russia because of these strikes. It just makes us hate them more.”

To cope during power outages, Ukrainians have been cooking on camping stoves in candlelit kitchens, wearing all their clothes while sleeping and huddling under every blanket in their homes. Engineers are working around the clock to fix energy equipment, and officials are urging citizens to conserve power or leave the country.

Meanwhile, fighting on the is forecast to slow due to cold and snowy conditions, as both Ukrainian and Russian soldiers struggle to avoid frostbite and weapon malfunctions. Several Ukrainian allies have already been sending clothing, medicine, generators and other supplies, but officials are pushing for more high-tech weaponry to help them gain the upper hand over the Russians.

What happens next depends on the strength of foreign aid and the resolve of both Russia and Ukraine. In this episode of the Stream, we’ll discuss the weaponization of winter, how Ukrainians are reacting and what lies ahead.

In this episode of The Stream, we are joined by:
Rory Challands, @rorychallands
Correspondent, Al Jazeera English

Maria Mezentseva, @mezentseva_dep
Member of Parliament, Ukraine

Mladena Kachurets
Former Deputy Health Minister of Ukraine