What It Was Like When Russia Attacked Ukraine

Amidst the chaos of Russia’s attack on Ukraine, photographer Pete Kiehart and reporter Isobel Koshiw from BuzzFeed News were diligently gathering information. It was a stark contrast to the previous evening, where celebrations were had over cocktails and steaks. Just before everything changed, I had visited a stationery shop to buy a new notebook, where I witnessed a young girl pleading with her mother for a pen with a teddy bear on it.

Little did I know, it would be the last normal moment before the bombs started to explode.

A video broadcasted on Russian state-run television, which quickly circulated on social media, revealed Putin’s announcement of a military operation aimed at seizing control of the Ukrainian government. It became alarmingly apparent that missile strikes were being launched on strategic military installations throughout the country, from Kharkiv in the east to Ivano-Frankivsk in the west and Uman in the center. The magnitude of Putin’s invasion became chillingly clear.

As the day progressed, the number of casualties began to rise. Among the first victims was a young boy, followed by a woman who was simply riding her bicycle down the street. Countless Ukrainian civilians and troops were tragically killed. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky reported that at least 137 Ukrainians had lost their lives in the ongoing Russian invasion, including both civilians and military personnel.

Desperate Ukrainians I had interviewed and friends I had made over my decade-long stay in the country reached out anxiously, seeking information and guidance. They wanted to know where it was safe to be, what would happen next, and when it would all come to an end. Regrettably, I had no satisfactory answers to offer, leaving me feeling utterly powerless.

In various regions of the country – the industrial eastern steppe, the capital city Kyiv with its majestic monasteries and cobblestone streets, and the tranquil western border near Poland and the European Union – black plumes of smoke engulfed the sky, evidence of Putin’s animosity towards Ukraine.

Ukraine was ablaze.

In a bold move, President Zelensky declared martial law and urged all patriotic citizens to take up arms in defense of freedom and democracy against tyranny and terrorism. The country’s armories were opened for this purpose.

As darkness fell, the outcome remained uncertain. An unknown number of Ukrainians sought refuge in bomb shelters that had been built after World War II but were never imagined to be utilized. Meanwhile, the fighting raged on.

There was a glimmer of hope that the tides might turn in Ukraine’s favor when the military managed to regain control of Hostomel Airport. Earlier in the day, 34 attack helicopters infiltrated from the border and discharged Russian forces merely 15 minutes away from Kyiv.

However, somewhere near the capital, the echoes of artillery could still be heard, foreshadowing another restless night to come.

What do you think?

Written by Western Reader

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