How do you fight an enemy like the cold?
In October, as the warmth of summer faded, Russia began a bombardment of Ukraine’s power stations and infrastructure. The objective was to inflict a new kind of suffering on civilians over the frigid winter months. Civilians like those who live in Kivsharivka, a small town in northeast Ukraine about a two-and-a-half-hour drive east of Kharkiv.
Kivsharivka was captured by Russian forces early in the war, but it has been back under Ukrainian control since around September. For the past few months, the people of Kivsharivka have been dealing with the quieter and more insidious enemy of the cold, and its attendant creeping damp and mold. Residents burn pine from a nearby forest on wooden stoves indoors despite the thick black smoke that issues from too-short extractor pipes. They huddle against small sources of warmth like electric heaters when the power is on, gas stoves when it is not, and hot water pipes that jut from the ground outside.