Vladimir Putin’s War in Ukraine has been met with strong opposition worldwide. The Russian autocrat initially said he sent in his military as a response to “free Ukrainians” from a despotic regime “committing genocide” against ethnic Russians — a charge that holds little merit. Putin’s real quest is to destroy the world order and he is hellbent on reclaiming vestiges of the former Soviet Union.
I spoke to those in and around Kyiv and Warsaw to get a broader sense of the first days of Putin’s War in Ukraine.
“Our people are suffering now,” Yulia, a young Ukrainian woman from Kyiv, tells me. Yulia continues to be huddled with her family in Oleksandriya, a city in Kirovohrad Oblast near the center of the country. “Our children are suffering [but] our soldiers are heroes, and President [Volodymyr] Zelensky is a hero. He is here with us because he cares about his Homeland. I can’t find words to express all of my pain and feelings. I don’t know how we will live. I know that we all hate Putin — even those who didn’t have this feeling before.”
Yulia also says that her friends from Italy “call constantly. They are ready to meet us. But I don’t want to leave Ukraine.”
Bomb blasts were heard in Kyiv on Feb. 25, just one day after the Russian army invaded Ukraine.
“There was gunfire in my district on Obolonskyi Avenue about 1.5 kilometers away,” Maksym informs me. “It’s quiet here now where I am but earlier, there were loud ones from the metro station in Kyiv, Poshtova Ploshcha. The sirens are off and on during the entire day.” Maksym also reminds me of the stirring photograph near his neighborhood that features about twenty Ukrainian soldiers on a bridge defending the city from further Russian aggression.
The fighting “began in the north [of the city] mostly,” Olenka, a Kyivian, tells me. “Civilians are also fighting back. [Putin’s army] made their dream [of having] Russian tanks in Kyiv come true. But the people of Kyiv are united. It’s amazing, and I’m proud of how brave and angry they are,” adds Olenka.
Demonstrations continue to rage against Putin’s War in Ukraine worldwide, including in Russia. It has been met with harsh resistance by law enforcement. Protesters there remain resolute, however, in their opposition of this war — and increasingly, to Putin’s regime. The largest demonstration erupted in St. Petersburg, as reported by Voice of America.
“It’s the 21st century, and we have a war now. My brain cannot understand this. I want Ukraine to be free,” says Hannah, a young Ukrainian living in Warsaw. “I speak Russian because I’m from Odessa. My mother and brother are [there] now. I also have other friends who have their parents in Donbas, and we don’t know what will happen next.”