Ukraine wakes up to the sound of Russian bombing
Steph Deschamps / February 24, 2022
In the night, the noise so feared for days wakes up the Ukrainian capital in a moment of panic. At 4:30 am, the first explosions tore the sky of Kiev, for the first time since the Second World War.
As the day breaks, the first warning sirens sound for many minutes from loudspeakers across the capital.
I was awakened by the sound of the bombs, I packed bags and ran away, Maria Kashkoska, 29, an entrepreneur, told AFP, crouching in shock on the floor of the metro where she had taken refuge, wanting to remain ready for all eventualities.
An hour after this panic awakening, nobody knows, no information on the origin or the target of these explosions in or around the capital.
Without waiting to find out, the people of Kiev hit the road. The avenues are filled with rush-hour traffic while it is still dark. Cars full of families head out of the city, to the west or to the countryside, as far as the Russian border, 400 km away.
If the eastern front is the one where the bombing seems to be sustained, no region of Ukraine seems safe.
At the other end of the country, in the seaside city of Odessa and even in Lviv, the western city where the United States and several other countries have relocated their embassies, sirens, indicating the need to seek emergency shelter, are also sounding every 15 minutes.
The war in the form of coordinated attacks, launched on Wednesday night by Vladimir Putin against the neighboring country, many Ukrainians did not believe until the last moment.
In Kiev, the preparations remained discreet.
But on Wednesday evening, in the wake of the declaration of the state of emergency, the mayor of Kiev Vitali Klitschko announced the installation of checkpoints on the main entrances to the capital and reinforced controls of passengers at stations and the airport.
In front of the metro station of the Maïdan square, in the center of Kiev, a woman tries to silence the screams of her cat, thrown quickly in a backpack.
We have to save our lives, and we hope that the metro is safe enough, as it is underground, Ksenia Mitchenka told AFP, before rushing into the metro.
Families flock to the entrance of the station, suitcases and bags in hand, their eyes riveted on their phones.
We stay here, it's safer, we'll wait here, explains a young woman in the metro, refusing to give her name, who keeps her bag with her papers, magazines and a lot of cash, the essentials to flee in wartime, says the young woman.