A Richmond woman, who went on vacation to Kiev a few weeks before Putin’s invasion, was forced to take refuge in an underground car park. Kateryna spent five days hiding in an underground car park with around 200 other civilians, a third of whom are children.
The 39-year-old student, originally from Ukraine but who has lived in Richmond for more than a decade, discovered that her flat in Kharkov had been destroyed by a bomb yesterday (Monday February 28). She said she woke up with “planes and rockets” flying overhead.
READ MORE: ‘I am a Ukrainian living in London and I start every morning to check that my family is still alive’
She told MyLondon: “I didn’t think there would be a war until the day I woke up and heard planes and rockets flying overhead. Now there are many bodies on the streets and many innocent children have already died. This is not a tactical operation targeting military bases. It’s a large-scale, crazy, horrible invasion.
Kateryna went into hiding with her friend and her 10-year-old child the day Putin announced his invasion of Ukraine. She described feeling “very scared” the first night in the parking lot where people hid after a nearby building was bombed.
Kateryna now considers it too dangerous to leave the parking lot, which must be protected by local guards against bandits. Although they have access to water, electricity and toilets, Kateryna thinks their supplies will only last seven days.
“Running is no longer an option for us,” she said. “There are a lot of shootings, all the roads are blocked, some bridges have exploded. The devastation is immense. People kill each other just to get on a train. It’s hell.
Footage provided by Kateryna shows people surviving in the shelter with limited supplies. Children can be seen sleeping on the floor of the underground car park and playing with toys, sleds and shopping carts.
She said: ‘We are hiding from the bombs here where the children speak both Ukrainian and Russian while up there people are being killed because of the made up idea that we have some sort of problem with the Russian language.
“Putin thought he was going to come in and take Kiev in a few hours. But the power of the Ukrainians is their minds, not their weapons. For five days, the Ukrainian armies have been fighting and we believe in them.
“The pain we are currently experiencing comes from the betrayal and the horrific consequences of this war. It has to stop but there is no end in sight.
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Kateryna is now urging international governments to act and provide protection to Ukrainian civilians, who desperately need food and shelter.
“I feel devastated,” she told MyLondon. “I don’t care about buildings, I only care about people’s lives.”
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