Lymany, nestled near the mouth of the Southern Buh river and within hearing of fighting between Russian and Ukrainian soldiers for the southern city of Kherson, considers itself one of Ukraine’s luckier towns.
Electricity is available in the hamlet of modest brick dwellings and gardens with olive, orange, and pomegranate trees. It is not always turned on. But when it is, it means safe drinking, bathing, and cooking water, as well as mobile service and television.
“I have an angel and every night, the angel opens its wings and covers the village,” said Nataliia Panashiy, 54, a teacher who serves as the mayor of Lymany and the nearby village of Lupareve.
Lymany and Lupareve have not been spared the fighting that has convulsed countless other Ukrainian villages, towns, and cities. They sit close to the Russian lines that the Ukrainian troops drove back beginning in August in a counter-offensive for Kherson, located about 30 km away.
But their power supply means that residents who had earlier fled the village are returning.
“The power goes on and off,” said Oleksandr Kovasenko, 25, a construction worker. “But we have enough. And we have an electrician who makes repairs all the time.”
Their good fortune contrasts with swathes of Ukraine in which tens of thousands have lost light, heat and water as Russia intensifies pre-winter missile and drone barrages against power plants and other infrastructure.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Tuesday that 30% of Ukraine’s power stations had been destroyed.
The daily Russian salvoes follow weeks of gains by Ukrainian forces fighting to retake territory in eastern and southern Ukraine seized by Moscow’s troops since they invaded in February.
Clashes are taking place less than 20 km (12 miles) southeast of Lymany as Ukrainian troops push to reclaim Kherson, the Russian-held provincial capital of one of four partially occupied regions Moscow claimed to be a part of Russia earlier this month.
Russian shells hit the villages intermittently. On Tuesday, the occasional crump from distant artillery fire could be heard in Lymany as volunteers from the port city of Mykolaiv dropped off food and other humanitarian aid at a building housing Panashiy’s office and the village library.
One side of the building and part of the roof were smashed this summer by a Russian shell.
“This structure is 260 years old. It survived the previous battle “As she examined the debris, Panashiy referred to World War II. “This structure housed a German command headquarters, and it survived.”
Wood-burning stoves were also delivered to the townhall and residences along the gravel roads that go through Lymany and Lupareve.
The burners, which were supported by international contributions, represent the villagers’ anxieties that their power and natural gas may be shut off as winter approaches.
“We still have gasoline. There is a chance as long as we have gas “Panashiy stated. “However, if the gas is taken off, there will be a cascade of difficulties.”