‘Thanks, Grandpa! There's light!’: The energy workers trying to keep Ukraine’s lights on

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By Euronews
Workers of the electricity supply company DTEK maintain power lines by cutting off excess branches in Kyiv, Ukraine.
Workers of the electricity supply company DTEK maintain power lines by cutting off excess branches in Kyiv, Ukraine.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Andrew Kravchenko

In the Ukrainian city of Chernihiv, blackouts have been a common experience since the start of the war, when it was besieged by Russian troops for more than a month. 

Now, across the country, blackouts have become a daily occurrence as Russian forces target civilian energy infrastructure - a tactic that Kyiv has described as "weaponising winter." And as temperatures drop, Ukrainian emergency workers have been tasked with the sometimes daunting ordeal to switch the country's lights back on.

It is a task that can be dangerous at times. The energy company DTEK, which works closely with Ukrainian energy company NEC Ukrenergo, says more than 106 employees have been killed since the start of the war.

But according to Anatolii Lavrenko, an energy worker in Chernikiv, his job is worth it, even if he is only able to switch the lights back on for a few minutes.

“Even when it was for five minutes, it was fine,” he said. “Maybe someone charged their phone. I came home one day, and my grandson was there.

“War or no war, he needed the phone. And he`s like, ‘Grandpa!’ and then he jumps up in my arms and says, ‘Thanks, Grandpa! There`s a light!’. And two minutes later, it goes out. It brought a tear to my eye."

Watch Euronews’ report in the video player above to learn more about his story.