Visiting troops ahead of Sunday’s parliamentary election, Ukraine’s Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk knows the fight against separatist rebels is not the only battle Kyiv faces.
Russia cut off gas flows to Ukraine in June in a row over unpaid bills. And with winter fast approaching, no solution has been found.
Accusing Vladimir Putin of trying to ‘freeze Ukraine’ after talks failed on Tuesday, he claims the Russian President does not want to sign an agreement.
“We must be ready for the most difficult scenario,” Yatsenyuk said at a military training camp at Yavoriv, in the western Lviv region.
“At the moment, we have 17 billion cubic metres of gas. If the EU additionally opens reverse flows to us – because we are already receiving 60 percent of gas by reverse – then it will hugely ease the way we survive winter.”
A ceasefire has not stopped fighting around Donetsk airport in the east of Ukraine, terrorising local people.
Leading human rights group, Human Rights Watch, claims government forces have used cluster bombs in populated areas – something Kyiv denies.
“The shelling goes on every night, around the clock,” said Vera Anoshina, a resident of Spartak village near Donetsk.
“Yesterday they shot so hard the ground was shaking. But if we leave, others left behind here will lose their faith. Out of 5,000 people in the village, there are roughly 400 left.”
Nearly every nearby building has been either damaged or destroyed.
Left without power due to the fighting, villagers are doing what they can to keep warm, such as chopping firewood. By the end of this week, temperatures are forecast to drop below freezing.