A house destroyed by a Russian missile – Reuters
A bulldozer is still at work. Weekday. And keep picking up dirt or bricks. Five of the ten floors of the apartment complex, in front of which the excavator moves back and forth, show the apartments’ interiors. Get out of a Russian missile. Five months have passed since this Soviet-style barracks on the outskirts of Kiev was bombed. It was February 25, the second day of the war in Ukraine. “They did not bend us. In fact, we are here again. But the enemy will attack us again,” says Vitaliy, sitting on a bench. The anti-aircraft alarm goes off, but the older man remains to observe the vehicle. Then he gets up to leave to the bar’s kiosk that faces the crater in the middle of the building with at least seven entrance doors.
People have returned to live in the Pozniaky neighborhood despite the clearly visible signs of the madness of war. One of the most populous residential areas on the left bank of the Dnieper River that divides the capital, it is less than five kilometers from the historic center. And in Kiev, it is the only place where the missiles fell: two in total. One in Vitaliy condominium; the other three hundred meters away, in a 24-story skyscraper destroyed in the upper part. Because the capital was spared attack from the air. Not the hinterland, not the region of Kiev and Chernihiv – north of the city – where even yesterday the missiles resumed hitting infrastructure, cities and industrial areas. Twenty-five arrived in the past few hours, according to one estimate, some of which were shot down by Ukrainian anti-aircraft. And according to local officials, they were sent from Belarus, whose border is one hundred and fifty kilometers from the heart of the city.
A warning from Moscow, perhaps to destabilize the wheat negotiations and to respond to the national offensive. As also said, the five killed in another attack from Moscow in Kropyvnytskyi in central Ukraine, and the two killed in the collapse of a bombed building in Donbass, where Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk invites the population to “prepare for evacuation”. because he risks not having “electricity, water, food, medicine” if he stays in the area.
“The Russian blitz on Kiev will start from Belarus,” says Vitaliy. But it is not only him who sets it up. It is an entire metropolis of three million inhabitants that is waiting for the attack. And he lives in the terror that grows after yesterday, when the sirens sounded repeatedly. “Sooner or later it will happen: Putin considers Kiev a symbolic target,” warns Pavel. The tanks had stopped thirty kilometers from the city gates in the first month of the conflict, arriving with Minsk’s approval. “The Kremlin wanted to conquer us in three days, but did not imagine such a massive unity of the population,” explains Pavel. He too had fled after the bombs rained down on Pozniaky. Then he decided to take back his house. Like so many here. Apart from the dozens of families who had their apartments torn apart. And “the richest”, as they call them, who had a nice amount set aside to rebuild their lives outside.
A blue and yellow flag was dropped from the terrace next to a living room that no longer exists. And above the large block, a crane arm moves to try to repair the houses on the upper floors that the second missile pierced in February. In the square, Nadiya has arranged on a wooden box what she managed to put together: some potatoes, carrots, some flowers. “I sell what I have in my hands to make ends meet,” he says. Look up at the wounded houses. “Of course I’m afraid. I’m afraid everything will repeat itself,” he whispers. It’s Pavel pointing around. “The Russians said they only wanted to target military structures. But here there are only condominiums and a shopping center ». However, there are those who believe that the two rockets were aimed at the Kiev government district, two kilometers away, and were diverted by the Ukrainian defense.
On the edge of the intersection, one of the lookout points made with sandbags remains, along with several iron anti-tank hedgehogs. Ready to be moved on the street in case of emergency. Presidia spread throughout Kiev. Like the nightmare that the war really breaks into the city. “No photography,” they shout to the passerby who takes out his cell phone to capture a corner of downtown. And the explanation is always the same: “If that image ends up online, it could be used by the Russians to identify a target.” From the town hall to the churches, from the theater to the entrances to metro stops: everything is at risk in the minds of those who live here. «And that is understandable – concludes Pavel -. We are strategic. But I also decided to resist and then drive out those who try to invade us’.