For Ukrainians — a question of fight or flight

A portrait of the situation of Ukrainians in the midst of war.

Killian Duvivier
7th March 2022
The invasion of Ukraine raises a series of pressing questions for those caught in the conflict... (Image; Twitter @LinkeviciusL)
Imagine waking up at the sound of bombs. This is what Ukrainians are facing since tensions have a escalated to a new level, war.

Russia initiated an attack on the country with military operations including the development of troops and bombings of strategic military sites in Ukraine.

On the 24th February, Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, declared martial law, calling anyone willingly able to fight to join for the defence of the country. Any men between 18 to 60 years old have been forbidden to leave the country as many families decided to flee to neighbouring western countries, such as Poland.

Anxiety and fear have become part of daily life, as many Ukrainians who decided (or were forced) to stay live in the dread of being injured by the Russian bombs supposed to ‘demilitarise’ the country in the words of Vladimir Putin. Ukrainians went from citizens of a sovereign country to refugees and soldiers within a mere 24 hours. Many are still hesitating over whether to escape, waiting to see if bombings and invasion will reach their own area.

For the people that managed to flee — to western cities such as Lviv first — they are now accumulating along the borders of neighbouring countries such as Poland, Hungary and Moldavia; with people waiting hours on end in their cars to cross. Some even had to reach the other side walking, many carrying young children.

Although the lives of Ukrainians took a tragic turn since the beginning of this war,  many were prepared to seek a plan B. Truth is, the people of Ukraine were expecting the tensions to take a new turn since 2014, in light of the annexation of Crimea and the pro-Russian movements in the Donbass region. With about 2 million that had already moved to Poland since the start of the conflict, many more are now yet to come.

For the people that stay, the question is where to find a refuge. A safe shelter protecting them from the Russian bombs. For several days now, some people have found refuge in Kyiv's metro, built much deeper into the ground  than most of its counterparts and therefore providing an essential anti-bombing protection.

Image: Twitter, @escapethecityyy

In the midst of uncertainty, A 23 year-old mother gave birth in one of the metro stations to a baby girl whilst hiding from bombings in the capital with the help of police. An act of beauty that brings hope to an innocent people fighting for freedom and democracy.

Solidarity is forming, with people deciding to fight this full-scale invasion, making homemade weapons such as molotov cocktails— A determination finding its source in a unifying national sentiment to protect their beloved country by their own means.

It seems as if no one wants this war, in many countries in the world, Ukrainian nationals and other supports are going down in the street demanding Russia to end this war. ‘HET BONHE’ can be read on many prosteter’s signs meaning ‘no war’ in Russian. A war that even the Russians don’t want, with more than 1,700 arrests in 53 different Russian cities following the anti-war protests.

Loads of questions remain unanswered as to whether the war will last, what will happen for the majority staying. Will the Western countries will be able to palliate with the growing number of refugees? All these questions leave Ukrainians in a total fog.

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