Marta Shokalo, editor of the BBC’s Ukrainian service: “There is no longer a safe place in Ukraine”


Ukraine has called for volunteers to defend the country.

Ukraine has called for volunteers to defend the country.

Photo: ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP/Getty Images

It was night but I was awake when I received a message from a colleague about Vladimir Putin鈥檚 speech announcing the invasion.

The explosions immediately began. I could hear them from my house and people located in different parts of the city started sending messages to our WhatsApp group about attacks that were happening near them.

Realizing that Ukraine鈥檚 capital, Kiev, was under attack 鈥 and not just the front line in the east of the country 鈥 was a huge shock.

There is no longer any safe place in Ukraine.

The biggest fear of people here is losing electricity and the internet not working, because then we would be really isolated.

Other afraid is that the bridges over the Dnieper River are bombed, leaving the city divided: the east and the west.

A photo provided by the press service of the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs shows the aftermath of an explosion in the building of a military unit in Kiev.
EPA/Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs
The photo provided by Ukraine shows the aftermath of an explosion in the building of a military unit in Kiev.

The explosions lasted for about 30 minutes.

I dressed my 10 year old son. We had breakfast, sitting as far away from the windows as possible, but he was so scared that he threw up.

We take a candle and some water to our cellar, which will be our refuge if things take a turn for the worse.

There are huge queues tooutside supermarkets near my home and at ATMs, many of which have run out of cash.

Some gas stations have also run out of fuel and have had to close. There is an atmosphere of panic, now that we know that the entire country is under attack.

Cars block the road as residents try to flee Kiev.
Getty Images
Cars block the road as residents try to flee Kiev.

The roads out of the city are blocked by traffic, but it is a dangerous journey: those who chose to take the car could easily run out of fuel far from home.

The trains are running, but there are crowds trying to get a seat.

Ukrainian airspace is closedunder the Martial Law introduced by President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Not only military targets have been destroyed: we have photos of residential buildings in various cities across the country that have been hit.

Hundreds of people make long lines to take buses to evacuate Kiev, the capital of Ukraine.
Getty Images
Hundreds of people make long queues to take buses in order to evacuate Kiev, the capital of Ukraine.

The Russian bombardment has affected all regions of the country. Even in Lviv, near the Polish border, sirens sounded this morning and a colleague had to take cover in a bomb shelter.

Another colleague took his family out of Kiev in the hope of avoiding possible bombing.

The countryside may be safer than the city, but in a country attacked from the north, east and south, there is no longer a truly safe place here.


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