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A waiter at Kyiv’s Mimosa pizzeria delivers one of the few remaining hot pizzas during one of the city’s regular blackouts.Anna Liminowicz/The Globe and Mail

It looked like the perfect Friday night out. Four friends enjoying a candle-lit dinner at an upscale pizzeria in Kyiv. Except the candles weren’t for ambiance and the staff had to rush out the few remaining hot pizzas because the power had just gone out, again.

This is life in Kyiv: regular power cuts, constant air raid sirens and renewed fears about Russian missile attacks.

The country was rocked by another series of strikes on Monday that damaged 18 power stations, including one in Kyiv that supplies electricity to 350,000 apartments. In the past three weeks, Russia has been concentrating its attacks on Ukraine’s power, water and heating services. The damage has forced energy suppliers to introduce rolling blackouts for up to four hours at a time.

Many residents of Kyiv and owners of small businesses are taking the measures in stride and adjusting to life where electricity is no longer a certainty. Some have bought camp stoves, extra blankets, candles, canned meat and bottled water.

Facebook groups have popped up offering tips on how to get by without power and several high-rise apartment buildings have started placing “survival kits” in elevators. The packs include water, energy bars, a flashlight and adult diapers, and some throw in bubble-making mix to keep children occupied.

Waiters at the Takava café in downtown Kyiv use a camp stove to learn how to brew coffee during blackouts.Anna Liminowicz /The Globe and Mail

The uneven power supply has also affected the city’s heating systems. Like many urban centres in Ukraine, Kyiv has central heating plants that supply entire neighbourhoods. Without power, those plants are inoperable.

But people in Kyiv are responding with resilience and defiance.

“We will live without Russia, even if it means going without light, without heat, without anything. And it’s okay,” said Olena Shvorka who was among the diners on Friday at the Mimosa pizzeria. Ms. Shvorka, her husband and two friends had just ordered their food when the power went out. Everyone applauded and then waited as the staff frantically served whatever they could while the dishes remained warm.

One of Ms. Shvorka’s dinner companions, Julia Logovinovska, had just arrived from Germany on a visit. She’d left Kyiv shortly after the war started on Feb. 24, but she’s now considering returning to Ukraine despite the challenges. “It’s just life here in Kyiv at this moment and we will live with that,” she said. “Here I see that everyone is working to the same vision, with the same spirit and it’s about more than just power and electricity.”

When the electricity went out in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha on Friday night, Serhii Prylutskyi threw up some battery-operated Christmas lights in his kitchen. Then he invited four friends to join him for a meal of chicken, potatoes and mushrooms that he’d managed to cook earlier.

This was the second power outage in the building that day but none of his friends complained about climbing the 10 floors up to Mr. Prylutskyi’s apartment. They’d lived through the horrors of the Russian occupation of Bucha last March, so going without power for a few hours was no hardship.

Luidmyla Petrova, centre, directs a team of volunteers and staff at a Kyiv charity called Good Bread from Good People as they race to bake dozens of loaves of bread before one of the city’s regular power outages.Anna Liminowicz /The Globe and Mail

“I don’t have frustration because a lot of people don’t have houses at all,” said Mr. Prylutskyi. “Some of the people lost their family.” Shortly after the men finished eating, the lights suddenly came on after two hours of darkness and they let out a cheer.

For small businesses, though, the blackouts present a massive headache just as most had been grappling with a slowing economy and soaring inflation.

At the Takava café in downtown Kyiv, staff pour hot coffee into thermoses and rely on a small camp stove to get through a blackout. One of the waiters, Roman Kuznetsov, said the biggest problem was that the power cuts came at random times, meaning the café couldn’t plan. “Sometimes there are two blackouts per day,” he said.

The shop also has to close if the air raid sirens sound, which makes for even less time to sell coffee and cakes. Since Oct. 10, Mr. Kuznetsov estimated that business had been cut in half. During a power cut on Friday around noon there were only a handful of customers.

“We are almost all the time ready to sell our products. But the people are scared of the sirens,” he said. They stay at home and don’t go downtown as much.

Customers in a restaurant in downtown Kyiv wait for the power to come back on during a regular blackout.Anna Liminowicz /The Globe and Mail

Over at a charity called Good Bread from Good People, a team of staff and volunteers race against the clock every morning to bake as many loaves as possible before the lights go out and their three giant ovens shut down.

The charity employs around 20 people with special needs, and they aim to make 8,000 loaves of bread a week, plus hundreds of cookies. They send the food to people in Kharkiv as well as to towns and villages further east that were recently recaptured by the Ukrainian army.

Luidmyla Petrova, who oversees the production, keeps everyone focused on the task at hand.

On Saturday morning, Ms. Petrova had called ahead to see if the building had electricity. When she got the all-clear, she and seven staffers arrived and started working like machines: mixing dough, rolling it into loaves and getting them into the ovens as quickly as possible.

Each loaf takes about 20 minutes to bake and Ms. Petrova kept her eye on the clock almost every time a rack went into the oven. If the power went out, all the bread baking would have to be ditched. The remaining dough would be stored in the freezer, in the hope it stayed cold.

“It’s a very big problem trying to prepare,” she said. “We don’t know when we’ll have power.”

Luckily by early afternoon, Ms. Petrova and her crew had made it without any disruptions, and they managed to meet their target of 1,500 loaves. But Monday morning would present a whole new challenge. “We just hope we have enough electricity,” she said wearily.

A nearly empty Besarabsky Market in central Kyiv as a regular power cut hits part of the downtown core.Anna Liminowicz/The Globe and Mail