BBC Ukraine editor: There is no safe place any more

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By Marta Shokalo
Editor BBC Ukrainian Service, Kyiv

(BBC) – I was awake at night when I got a message from a colleague about Vladimir Putin’s speech announcing an invasion.

Then immediately the explosions began. I could hear them from my home, and people in different parts of the city started sending messages to our WhatsApp group, about explosions happening close to them.

To realise that Kyiv itself was under attack, not the front line in the east of the country, was a big shock.

There is no safe place in Ukraine anymore.

The biggest fear for ordinary people here is running out of electricity and the internet not working – then we would be really isolated. Another fear is that bridges over the Dnieper river will be bombed, dividing the eastern and western halves of the city.

The explosions continued for about 30 minutes. 

Marta Shokalo

I dressed my 10-year-old son. We had some breakfast, sitting as far from the windows as we could, but he was so scared he vomited. We took a candle and some water to our cellar, which will be our refuge if things get worse.

There are huge queues outside the supermarkets near my home and at ATMs, many of which have run out of money. Some petrol stations too have now run out and closed. There is an air of panic, now that we know the entire country is under attack.

The roads out of the city are blocked with traffic, but it’s a perilous journey – sitting in long, slow-moving queues of traffic you could easily run out of fuel far from home. Trains are operating, but there are big crowds of people trying to get a seat. Ukrainian airspace is closed, under the martial law introduced by President Zelensky.

It’s not only military targets that have been destroyed – we have photographs of residential buildings in a number of cities around the country that have taken direct hits.

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

One colleague has taken his family out of Kyiv in the hope of avoiding the attacks from the air. The countryside may be safer than the city, but in a country under attack from north, east and south, there is no truly safe place here any more.

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