Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has appealed to local authorities, including in the capital of Kyiv, to do more to build out his government’s much-heralded “Invincibility Points” – which are popup stations offering shelter and services, such as power-charging facilities, internet connections and hot water.
The government announced plans to provide emergency support for civilians struggling without electricity and heating last week, just a couple of days before the latest round of Russian air strikes on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure led to further significant disruptions.
But in his Friday night address, Zelensky criticized the program’s rollout, especially in the capital, where he said only those points deployed at the railway station and at State Emergency Services facilities were working properly.
“Other points still need to be improved, to put it mildly,” he added. “Kyiv residents need more protection.”
Visiting the “Invincibility Points”: CNN teams visited three of the government-advertised resource centers in the Ukrainian capital. Two of them, both SES-run facilities, were functioning, while a third located at a school was not.
At one location, in the Obolonskyi district in the north of the city, CNN spoke with Tetiana, who said her apartment had been without power and heat for more than 50 hours. During that time, she had also been without mobile phone service.
“We saw this (‘Invincibility) Point’ on the map and decided to try it,” she said.
Seated at a simple desk along one side of the roughly 30-square-meter (about 323 square feet) tent, its sides padded for warmth, she told us she was happy she could get online again. Her employer makes souvenirs, and the approaching holiday season is always a busy time, she said. “The internet is great here; I can do my work,” she said.
Another resident, Larysa, was also impressed with the Wi-Fi available at the same site because it meant she could reconnect with social media.
“The internet is fast; I’m finally on TikTok,” she laughed, adding, “I am looking for a job because I am from Lviv. I have recently moved to Kyiv.”
A resident named Oleksiy told CNN he had also been without power at home for more than two days and was also using the internet provided to look for work.
“I have a wife and two children, aged 5 months old and 9 years old, at home. I will not bring my children here because it’s a long walk, but I will definitely be coming here again,” he said.
Those interviewed for this post declined to provide their last names to CNN.