'Who knows what will be next': Kyiv pair speak of surviving in the eye of Putin's storm

2 March 2022, 20:28 | Updated: 2 March 2022, 20:32

Kyivan residents have told LBC about living under Putin's strikes
Kyivan residents have told LBC about living under Putin's strikes. Picture: LBC

By Will Taylor

Ukrainians in the heart of Russia's prime invasion target have told LBC of how their lives were upheaved by Vladimir Putin's war – and laid bare the grim reality of sheltering from his force's bombardments.

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The capital Kyiv has been stuck by missiles for days and it appears that Russian forces are encircling the capital, sparking fears of an incoming siege.

Two young residents of Kyiv, Kseniia Maslova and Bodhan Martovskiy, told LBC's Iain Dale about sheltering in a metro for three days as the attacks rained down.

Bodhan said: "It was quite cold but we had our sleeping bags, we had a lot of winter clothing on us, but it's a bomb shelter in the subway station so we had some toilet and some tea from the workers but it's not like the place where you have a cafeteria or a shower or something.

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"In the night you have just a cold floor where you need to sleep."

Kseniia added: "It was quite challenging to be under the ground for so long. For 36 hours or even more without access to fresh air, without the possibility to see the sunlight, all this normal stuff outside.

"So we decided to stay at home this night and the night before and who knows what will be next."

They would joke in the face of an invasion which they didn't think would come – making their lives completely different to a week ago.

Kseniia said: "Last week was the worst of our lives, in the lives of all Ukrainian people – and it's hard to even explain.

"Just a week ago we lived another life, just spent time with friends, had a chance to go to the café, cinema, all these things… now we are living in a war.

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"It's pretty different reality so far."

Bodhan said they were alerted by a friend in Kazakhstan, who called them to say the war had broken out.

"It was a big surprise," he added.

"Before the war started we had this conversation with our friends, kind of laughing about this invasion because we didn't believe it could happen.

"So for us, it was some kind of defence, when you’re laughing at something because you want to defend yourself. It's best to make some stupid joke."

"But now it's happening," Kseniia said.

The pair have had conversations about escaping Kyiv, to the west of the country. But just 30 minutes before speaking to Iain, a large explosion happened at the capital's main railway satiation.

Bodhan said: "It's not quite safe to get out by train or by car because you don't know what can happen right now with you on the road, in the train or something like that."

Kseniia said: "We just hope things will not get back to normal - just get further to normal, to a better future of all Ukrainians… maybe for all Europe. It's linked between every country in Europe."

Bodhan, who already volunteers to help in Ukraine, added: "I'm not actually allowed to leave my country because I should be a defender and for me it's quite hard to - when I went from my home right now and I saw some military Ukrainians and I feel quite ashamed, that I should take a weapon too and defend my country.

"But I realise that it's not my best way, because I'm not trained to work with weapons. What can I do?"

On Wednesday, Russia stepped up its attacks in cities across Ukraine, with several videos emerging of heavy strikes in Kharkiv, a key city in the east of the country.

More than 800,000 Ukrainians have become refugees while authorities there estimate 2,000 civilians have been killed in the violence.

They have put up a stiffer resistance than Moscow seems to have expected, with the Russian advance having slowed in recent days and Ukrainians bravely standing up to block them off in parts of the country.