A national poll by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology, released last week, showed 86 percent of Ukrainians support continuing military action against the Russian occupation even if missile strikes persist. But support was lower, at 69 percent, in eastern Ukraine, where bombardment has been more intensive.
Before the invasion, the city of Mykolaiv — which lies on a bank of the Buh River where it forms an estuary on the shore of the Black Sea — pumped about 31 million gallons of fresh water per day through two pipes that cross into territory now controlled by Russian forces. When the Russians severed them, Ukrainian officials were forced to improvise and pipe in seawater.
“Water is just another weapon of war,” said Borys Dudenko, the director of the city’s waterworks.
A shower is possible, though it leaves a patina of itchy salt. Brushing teeth is not recommended. The rust and other minerals in the water, which give it its orange hue, cause allergic reactions. Using it to prepare food, water a garden or run a washing machine are out of the question.
“Well, unfortunately, we live in this way now,” Mr. Dudenko said in an interview. “But fortunately, most people understand and blame the occupier, blame the aggressor. Some people will always complain. And they blame me, and they blame the mayor for making their lives miserable.”
Mr. Dudenko said he was unaware of any modern city circulating seawater in water mains before Mykolaiv’s experiment. Residents bear up as best they can, but are exasperated as well.
“It’s just impossible to live like this,” said Yulia Kravets, who is caring for a newborn baby in a high-rise apartment. Her husband, Oleksandr, hauls gallons of water every day, to wash the baby, prepare meals and drink.