As Russian forces approach the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv’s mayor is both proud of his residents’ spirit and concerned about how long they will be able to hold out.
When asked if there were preparations to evacuate residents if Russian soldiers managed to overrun Kyiv, Mayor Vitali Klitschko remained mute for many seconds in an interview with The Associated Press on Sunday, following a long night of Russian strikes on the city’s outskirts.
“We won’t be able to accomplish that since all routes are closed,” he eventually added in English. “All roads are closed, and we are currently besieged – Russians are everywhere, and we have no means to evacuate the civilians.” And everyone who had planned to flee had already done so.”
The Associated Press was unable to confirm the mayor’s claim that Kyiv was surrounded right away, and his spokeswoman subsequently tweeted that the mayor had misspoken.
“In the evening, Russian Internet outlets propagated information with reference to me that Kyiv is purportedly surrounded and evacuation of citizens is difficult,” Klitschko subsequently said on his Telegram channel, reversing his earlier opinion. Do not be deceived! Only rely on official sources for information.”
When Russian forces entered Ukraine on Thursday, the 2.8 million-strong capital city of Kiev reacted with fear, but also a sense of self-possession. When grocery shops began to close and the city’s famed subterranean subway system transformed its stations into bomb shelters, tensions began to fray.
According to the Associated Press, nine people have been murdered in Kyiv so far, including one kid.
A Klitschko-ordered curfew went into effect at dusk on Saturday and will be in effect until at least 8 a.m. on Monday. Any illegal individual outdoors at this time may be deemed a saboteur, according to his command.
“We’re looking for these individuals, and it’ll be a lot simpler if no one is on the street,” Klitschko said, adding that six Russian saboteurs were slain on Saturday night.
The march of Russian soldiers towards the city has been slower than many military analysts had predicted, but the overall Russian military superiority is well-known.
“I just had a conversation with the president” (Volodymyr Zelenskyy). “Everyone is in a bad mood,” Klitschko said, adding that city staff were stunned but not despondent. “We demonstrate our character, expertise, and ideals.”
Long lines of men and women have been seen queuing to pick up firearms in the Ukrainian capital in recent days, after officials decided to distribute armaments freely to anybody willing to protect the city. However, there are reservations about arming jittery individuals with no combat training in the face of Russian saboteurs posing as Ukrainian police officers or journalists.
“To be honest, we don’t have complete control,” Klitschko admitted. “We put this territorial defense (system) together quickly, but these are patriotic people.”
He said, “Right now, the most essential question is to defend our nation.”
Klitscho’s perspective clouded when asked about the city’s ability to replace depleting supplies of food and medication.
He stated, “We are on the verge of a humanitarian disaster.” “We have power, running water, and warmth in our homes right now.” However, the infrastructure for delivering food and medicine has been decimated.”
He then rallied like the world heavyweight boxing champion he once was in the same breath.
“That is why the message to everyone is to stand together and support Ukraine… we are powerful,” he stated. “Every Ukrainian is pleased to be independent, proud to be Ukrainian, and proud to have our own nation,” says one Ukrainian.