Ukraine’s ‘Invincibility’ centers offer refuge, resilience

Nov 28, 2022, 10:42 AM | Updated: Nov 29, 2022, 12:44 am
A boy kisses a dog while he charges his phone at the heating tent "Point of Invincibly" in Bucha, U...

A boy kisses a dog while he charges his phone at the heating tent "Point of Invincibly" in Bucha, Ukraine, Monday, Nov. 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

(AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

              A couple uses a laptop at the heating tent "Point of Invincibly" in Bucha, Ukraine, Monday, Nov. 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

BUCHA, Ukraine (AP) — Retired Ukrainian construction worker Borys Markovnikov is on the move again: This time, just a few steps from his home in the town of Bucha, northwest of Kyiv, to seek shelter and warmth at a “Point of Invincibility” — a government-built help station that serves food, drinks, warmth and ultimately, resilience, in the face of Russia’s military onslaught.

In recent weeks, Ukraine has rolled out hundreds of such help stations, christened with a name of defiance as places where residents facing outages of power, heating and water can warm up, charge their phones, enjoy snacks and hot drinks, and even be entertained.

Markovnikov, 78, has had to move a few times. He recalled how he was driven from his home in the eastern Donbas region after Russian-backed separatists seized territory there in 2014. Earlier this year, he fled his adopted town of Bucha — now infamous for massacres during a brief occupation by Russian forces — on foot, across the front line, to Kyiv. Later. he was able to return home, but home is not always an easy place to live.

“My neighbors told me there was a tent with electricity and a TV, and I came to have a look,” said Markovnikov, ogling Monday’s soccer World Cup match between Ghana and South Korea, adding he had no power at home. “We still believe. Without belief, you can’t survive.”

Ukraine’s State Emergencies Service said Friday nearly 1,000 such centers have been erected across the country since the program was first launched on Nov. 18. Its website features a handy online map to show beleaguered citizens where they are located.

As of Friday, over 67,000 people had gotten help in them — and more could pour in if, as many experts and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy have warned, more Russian strikes lie ahead.

Such centers — often consisting of small, insulated tents no larger than a classroom — were rolled out just in time as a string of massive airstrikes by Russian forces deprived many Ukrainians of basics of life at home.

The centers are in essence a stopgap while utility crews scramble to fix cut power lines and put water mains back into operation, so basic services can be restored to homes and businesses.

Power company DTEK said controlled outages continued Monday in Kyiv as a necessary step to balance the hobbled power system and avoid other breakdowns, while ensuring electricity to hospitals and heat-pumping stations.

Only 42 percent of power was available to household customers in the city, and “we do our best to provide light to each customer for 2 to 3 hours twice a day,” the company said.

Outside the “Point of Invincibility” on an esplanade in front of a sports center in Bucha, teens had a snowball fight and a guitarist strummed his instrument outside an inflatable tent.

Inside, kids crouched over games of Roblox on mobile phones as young adults tapped away at laptops and elderly women sat quietly to while away the time. A young girl clutched her dog as staffers poured cups of hot tea and sweetened it with honey.

The “Points of Invincibility” offer a public-service — and free — alternative to the many coffee shops and restaurants that have become hubs for internet access and warmth of Ukrainians seeking refuge from the cold and dark in their own homes.

“When the electricity went out, I had to look for a place with a connection,” said Bucha resident Mykola Pestikov, 26, crouched over his computer. “These can be cafes that take energy from other places, or I look for a ‘point’ — like now.”

Yuri Mikhailovskiy, a firefighter who helps run the site, showed a ledger that indicated more than 1,000 people had come through the center since it was first put up 10 days ago in Bucha, where electricity is spotty or nonexistent in most homes.

A new delivery of cookies was expected in the next few days.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Zoubin Ghahramani, vice president of research at Google, speaks at the Google AI@ event on W...
Associated Press

Google has the next move as Microsoft embraces OpenAI buzz

Before the artificial intelligence tool ChatGPT was unleashed into the world, the novelist Robin Sloan was testing a similar AI writing assistant built by researchers at Google.
11 hours ago
budgets...
Associated Press

Group’s lawsuit seeks to void Washington transportation law

A conservative legal advocacy organization is suing to halt the nearly $17 billion transportation funding bill passed by the Washington Legislature and signed by Gov. Jay Inslee last year.
11 hours ago
FILE - Arkansas Governor-elect Sarah Huckabee Sanders answers a question while taking part in a pan...
Associated Press

Arkansas Gov. Sanders to give GOP response to Biden address

WASHINGTON (AP) — Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders will deliver the Republican address to the nation in response to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union speech next week as the GOP seeks to show it’s creating a new generation of leaders. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell announced the role […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Mexico’s president promises total withdrawal after term ends

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s president is probably the most powerful political figure the country has had in decades, but he said Thursday that after his term ends in September 2024, he will totally withdraw from politics. There had been speculation that President Andrés Manuel López Obrador would remain a power behind the scenes in […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Authorities: Man shot after reporting self as trespasser

MAGNOLIA, Texas (AP) — A man who might have been experiencing a mental health crisis was shot and injured by Texas deputies on Thursday after apparently calling 911 and describing himself as a trespasser outside his home, authorities said. At 12:45 a.m. on Thursday, deputies with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office were called to a […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Germany’s interior minister announces run for state office

BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s interior minister said Thursday that she plans to run for governor of her home state this fall but to remain the country’s top security official in the meantime, a politically risky course that already is drawing criticism from opponents. “I’m the first woman to head the Interior Ministry, and I would […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Ukraine’s ‘Invincibility’ centers offer refuge, resilience