Kyiv, Ukraine – For the second time in one week, Marina had to wait more than three hours in the car with her newborn to buy gas.
Marina, who was sitting in a row that extended as far as the eye could see down the side of the highway, said she was waiting to fill up another 20-liter can of fuel to add to it. Stock it at home. The amount – just over 5 gallons – was the maximum allowed at the gas station.
She said she wanted to make sure that she, her husband, and their two children would have enough fuel to get safely to the border if Russian forces returned to the area.
“Who knows how events will unfold,” she said. “In case of danger, the four of us get in the car and go.”
As the Russian invasion of Ukraine entered its third month, gas shortages began to emerge across the country. Cities like Kyiv and Lviv are having a particularly hard time as more people return home after Russia’s retreat to the east last month.
In recent days, the shortage has worsened as the uncertainty of the war has led to panic buying, and many Ukrainians are now stocking pots of gasoline at home.
“I will need to evacuate if anything happens,” said Oleksandr Eremenko, 44, explaining why he waited four hours early Friday morning to buy 20 liters of gas. It will not be enough to take him to the border if the Russians return. “I will stand in line again.”
The Russians looted and set fire to some gas stations during their occupation of the area in March. Others completely ran out of fuel, and some began to limit the amount of fuel each driver could buy.
Vladimir Riviga, 21, said he arrived at a station in Kyiv at 6 a.m. Thursday to put as much gas into his empty tank as station staff would allow. He was approaching the front of the line at 5 p.m. when the station ran out of fuel.
At 12 noon on Friday, he was still waiting for gas to arrive. The gas station workers kept telling him it would only take a few hours.
“It’s frustrating,” he said. “But I understand the situation; it is a war. If we have to wait, we have to wait.” He hoped that his perseverance might convince the workers at the station to supply him with a full tank.
The country was forced to rely heavily on imported petroleum.
Russian forces have targeted The Kremenchug refinery, along with oil storage facilities, cut off Ukraine’s access to ports on the Black Sea.
As a result, the Ukrainian government has rushed to find alternative ways to get fuel into the country, patching up new systems for bringing fuel overland by truck.
Ukrainian officials have acknowledged that the gas shortage is stressing the country.
at Video title At the end of April, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that long queues and high prices at gas stations were “seen in many regions of our country.”
“The occupiers deliberately destroy the infrastructure for the production, supply and storage of fuel,” he said. Russia has also closed our ports, so there are no immediate solutions to plug the deficit.
Zelensky promised to eliminate the fuel shortage within two weeks. On Friday, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denis Shmyal said his country had agreed to import oil products from the Middle East, the Persian Gulf and Azerbaijan.
Shmyhal said in a statement posted on the Ukrainian government website that a border checkpoint for import was being prepared. He did not say when the oil would start arriving or where the border crossing would be.
So for now, the problem is getting worse.
The fuel situation raises concerns about how Ukraine will support essential industries such as agriculture and whether this will affect military logistics and supply chains. Government officials encouraged civilians to avoid driving their personal vehicles and using public transportation when possible.
Ruslan Erkis, 38, who runs a small farm outside Kyiv, said he needs the fuel to keep his farm running and to get his produce to nearby stores.
He and his wife took an entire day driving around Kyiv collecting 20 liters of gas cans at a time. He said he couldn’t go home until they had at least 100 liters.
‘We have to make a living, this is the only way.’
Oksana Moiseenko, 42, said she has followed government guidelines for using public transportation since returning to Kyiv in mid-April.
But the idea of the Russians returning terrified her. I waited more than three hours on Friday morning to buy just 20 liters of fuel. I planned to keep going back to the station until it had enough fuel to drive the approximately 8 hour drive to the border.
“Of course I’m worried,” she said of the possibility of being forced to leave Kyiv again. “How not to worry?”