Kiev’s residents flee as air sirens blare and explosions heard

Russia invaded Ukraine in the early hours of Thursday, leaving some in the capital hunkering down and others trying to escape

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Thousands of Ukrainians woke up to missed calls and messages from friends and neighbours on Thursday, if they hadn’t already been roused by the sounds of explosions.

The messages and artillery booms could mean only one thing: Russia had invaded Ukraine.

Ukrainian forces fought Russian invaders on three fronts on Thursday after Moscow mounted an assault by land, sea and air.

For residents of the capital, Kiev, the distant sounds of strikes were swiftly followed by blaring air raid sirens, sending some out into the streets, either into bomb shelters or train stations to begin mounting their escape. Queues of people waited to withdraw money and buy supplies of food and water.

Later in the day, the city’s mayor imposed a curfew. Kiev resident Anna Dovnya told the Associated Press: “I thought it might concern Donetsk and Luhansk, but I didn’t ever think it could concern the capital of Ukraine, Kiev.”

“It is terrifying for all of us,” she said. “We have lost all faith”.

But in the morning, some shops and coffee stands were still open, with people standing around chatting. In what could have been a scene from any other day, a broken-down car was being lifted on to a flatbed truck.

Those taking the metro met an equally surreal scene. A mix of people, half heading down with packed suitcases and the other half heading out on to the street as if nothing was happening.

“Everyone is leaving, everywhere is shut,” Kiev resident Hayan Babakov told AP. “I will be here until the end.”

Quote
Please help us and stop this aggressor
Oleksandra Shustik

Another local resident, Oleksandra Shustik, pleaded to the international community: “Please help us and stop this aggressor.”

Jets fly overhead and residents and visitors alike admit they are scared of what is to come.

It is the biggest attack on a European state since the Second World War.

Many are travelling to the city of Lviv, close to the border with Poland and almost as far as one can get from Russia while remaining in Ukraine.

The highway heading west out of Kiev was choked with traffic across five lanes as residents fled. Western neighbours are preparing for an influx of refugees.

Updated: February 25, 2022, 6:18 AM