People in Kyiv were told to make Molotov cocktail petrol bombs on Friday as they hid in makeshift shelters and basements, awaiting a Russian assault on the Ukrainian capital.
Missiles pounded Kyiv overnight and air raid sirens wailed, increasing fears among residents who did not flee the city of 3 million on Thursday that an assault was imminent.
“Make Molotov cocktails, neutralise the occupier!,” the Defence Ministry said, while local authorities told people in the northwestern Obolon area of the city to stay off the streets because “active hostilities” were approaching. read more
Some residents took refuge in subway stations being used as air-raid shelters, or rushed to basements of apartments blocks or other buildings when air-raid warnings sounded.
“The kids were scared, they cry and ask ‘Mom, will we all die?’,” said Alla, a woman in her 40s.
The basement where she took cover was packed with hundreds of people with no place to sleep, only chairs and some water. Even finding a place to sit was difficult.
“We don’t know how long we have to stay here. Good we have chairs at least,” a 35-year-old woman who gave her name only as Viktoria said, while her children of five and seven slept without taking off their winter coats.
“We’re shocked, we didn’t expect that. How can you wage a war against peaceful people?” she said.
EXPLOSIONS, SHATTERED WINDOWS
Ukrainian leaders evoked memories of a Nazi German attack on Kyiv in 1941. Damage to the centuries-old city during World War Two took years to repair.
One resident of southeast Kyiv, who gave his name only as Sergei, said he woke at around 4 a.m. and went out to the balcony of his apartment for a smoke.
He heard an explosion and saw a flash in the skies in front of him. Five seconds later an explosion shook his 10-storey residential building not far from Boryspil international airport.
“Glass flew all around. There’s now a shell fragment in my kitchen. I was shocked,” he told Reuters. Nobody in his family was hurt.
A Reuters reporter saw a 2-metre-deep crater full of rubble in the ground next to the building and windows had been shattered. A policeman on the scene said nobody was killed but several people were badly hurt.
One resident, Oxana Gulenko, a military medic whose father fought for the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, said she was thrown from her bed by the explosion.
“How we can live through it in our time? What should we think? (Russian President Vladimir) Putin should be burnt in hell along with his whole family,” she said, cleaning away broken glass in her apartment.
Others cleared away rubble in the street.
Anatoliy Marchenko, 57, who served in the Soviet army, will have to repair his balcony after the strike and could not find his cat, which ran away during shelling.
“I’m ashamed that I speak Russian,” he said and switched to Ukrainian. “I know people there (in Russia), they are my friends. What do they need from me? A war has come to my house and that’s it.”
Writing by Timothy Heritage; Editing by Janet Lawrence and Alison Williams