• Kyiv Mayor and former boxer Vitali Klitschko said that the city is bracing for a brutal winter.
  • 500 shelters for 3.6 million people and a strained power grid could mean the ‘apocalypse,’ he said.
  • But he appeared to fire back at Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who suggested Kyiv was unprepared.

The mayor of Kyiv clapped back at Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, acknowledging that an apocalyptic winter could lie ahead in Ukraine’s capitol but that his administration is working to avoid it.

Kyiv Mayor and Hall of Fame boxer Vitali Klitschko fueled simmering tension with Zelenskyy with his firm remarks, a week after he brushed off Zelenskyy’s criticism that Kyiv was not equipped for a harsh winter amid increasing Russian airstrikes.

In an interview with Reuters on Wednesday, Klitschko admitted that with a mere 500 heating hubs for 3.6 million people, Kyiv may have to call for widespread evacuations in some scenarios.

“Kyiv might lose power, water, and heat supply. The apocalypse might happen, like in Hollywood films, when it’s not possible to live in homes considering the low temperature,” Klitschko told Reuters on Thursday. “But we are fighting and doing everything we can to make sure that this does not happen.”

In the interview, Klitschko claimed that 152 civilians had been killed by Russian forces in Kyiv, and that 678 buildings had been wrecked since the start of Russia’s war on February 24. Klitschko and Zelenskyy’s spat came partially out of Russia’s increased targeting of Ukraine’s power grid. According to the World Health Organization, Russia has crippled about half of Ukraine’s power supply.

According to Reuters, in a video message last week, Zelenskyy stated that Kyiv did not have enough heating shelters, which Klitschko called a “strange” message.

“It looks strange when we are united against a single enemy, but we start to fight within the country,” Klitschko told Reuters last week, blaming Zelenskyy’s comments on “politics.”

On Thursday, Klitschko admitted that “for a city of 3 million, 500 points is nothing,” in reference to heating shelters set up by the city administration, but argued that it was more than other Ukrainian cities. Winter temperatures can fall as low as 5 degrees Fahrenheit in the dead of winter in Kyiv, Reuters reported.

“If electricity supply continues to be absent while outside temperatures remain low, we will unfortunately be forced to drain water from buildings,” Klitschko told Reuters on Thursday. “Right now there is heating in Kyiv, there is electricity… everything works, there is no need at present (for evacuation),” Klitschko added. 

The mayor told residents to remain calm, but to prepare for “various scenarios.”

A picture of a switch and lightbulb

Sign up for notifications from Insider! Stay up to date with what you want to know.
Subscribe to push notifications