Morale: Bomb Shelter Blues


July 16, 2023: Since early 2022, Ukrainian cities have been suffering from intermittent attacks by Russian missiles. This led these cities to revive the use of existing bomb shelters and build new ones. While Ukrainian air defenses have been able to destroy many of the incoming missiles, enough get through to make bomb shelter availability a priority item. The Ukrainian cities under attack have warning systems but this requires enough bomb shelters for people to take refuge in. Before 2022, most of these bomb shelters were closed, to prevent vandalism or misuse. In some cities bomb shelters had doors that could be opened by entering a PIN number into the access system. The PIN could be changed and was made widely available when there was danger of attack. This approach was flawed because not everyone trying to enter the shelter knew the current PIN. After some civilians were killed outside a locked shelter because they did not know the PIN, another solution was developed that automatically unlocked shelters when air raid sirens were used.

There were other problems with shelters being either closed or open and normally they were closed. Air raid alerts do not provide enough time for local officials to unlock any or all of the available shelters. In some cities shelters were in disrepair or blocked because they had not been used in a long time. The central government had to pressure officials in some cities to make more shelters available and inform citizens where they were. Some towns and cities ignored these orders because local officials believed their area would not be hit. When that belief proved wrong it was too late and people died. Making shelters available is a local responsibility and if local officials do not act, the central government cannot force them to provide shelters. The government can publicize the incidents of unavailable shelters but even that is not sufficient to motivate some local officials to take precautions and prepare and publicize shelters.




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