I will remember 24th February 2022, forever. I woke up from the sound of a terrible explosion, which thundered 10 meters away from my house. It was a missile attack on Kyiv by Russian aviation and an absolute shock! I wanted to leave the city right away, but it was impossible because fighting was already going on all around Kiev. From that moment on, the life of all the Ukrainians divided into “before” and “after.”
It has been more than two weeks, as Russia continues open aggression against Ukraine. The invaders continue to bring troops and military equipment, they intensify relentless shelling of the residential areas and critical infrastructure. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has lost contact with monitoring systems at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, which has been taken over and now is controlled by the Russian troops.
Kyiv Mayor Vitaliy Klitschko said on the social media page of the Kyiv City Department that fierce battles were taking place near the capital, in particular, Russian troops are destroying the cities of the Kyiv region – Bucha, Gostomel, Vorzel, Irpin – and purposefully killing civilians.
“The capital is preparing for defense. I ask all the people of Kiev to keep their temper. It is necessary to stay at home or, in the event of an alarm, in shelters. Kyiv will stand! We will defend! We will stand! Glory to Ukraine!” he said.
Because of the Russian occupiers, the daily routine of ordinary people is shaped by air raid alarms: people have learned to live in basements and bombshelters, sleep in turns and eat once a day. Many have a new syndrome – phantom air raid syndrome, when people think they hear the siren even when there is none.
No one reads books or watches movies anymore, we all are glued to the news feed. But the quality of our communication with each other has grown to unprecedented heights – we became, if not a family, then at least best friends with each other. We became closer with our neighbors, take turns going to the grocery store, help those who have difficulty to walk – the elderly and the disabled.
We are very grateful to the Kyiv local authorities for working electricity, heating, and internet. We are happy that garbage is still picked up. We are happy when we have an opportunity to buy meat or fruits. How little it is valued in the peacetime!
And of course, all Ukrainians believe in Victory and our army. Volunteers who assist civilian population in various areas actively help –to accommodate refugees at railway stations, buy food and medicine for territorial defense fighters and ordinary Ukrainians, and collect money for the needs of the army. Ukrainians are highly motivated, because we are defending our land!
Quiet. Appreciate the silence. It is a fleeting moment. It has faith and hope, a reasonable hope that this collective energy of love for one’s home and country will become stronger than the occupiers’ desire to destroy our nation and its people. 11th March 2022
Ganna Lavrekha, art critic, member of the National Union of Artists of Ukraine. At the time of writing she was sheltering in Kyiv