Residents of Kyiv waited with patience and resignation Tuesday as all signs pointed toward another imminent Russian bombing of their city.
Several sources said Russia was planning significant strikes Tuesday or Wednesday. An official with the Ukrainian intelligence service called the information “rather serious.”
The Russians have been striking regularly, week after week, at roughly the same interval. As a result, residents were bracing Tuesday, and there was little traffic in the downtown core.
At 12:30 p.m., a siren sounded to warn of a pending attack, but the alert was short-lived. In one of the large downtown shopping centres, there were few shoppers, except at the small grocery store.
In neighbouring restaurants, however, business was steady. The McDonald’s in Maidan Square was busy, as were several small cafés along Khreshchatyk Street, one of the capital’s main commercial arteries. On the cold, cloudy Tuesday afternoon, passersby did not linger in the streets.
The Ukrainian intelligence official told The Canadian Press that authorities were fearing salvos from a range of weaponry, originating from land, sea and air. Ukraine’s anti-aircraft defence has perfected its methods and has cutting-edge equipment supplied by its allies, but it cannot intercept all the missiles and drones fired toward the capital or elsewhere in the country.
On Monday, Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov said Russia had launched 16,000 missile attacks on Ukraine in the last nine months. Last week, a particularly devastating Russian attack heavily damaged the Ukrainian electrical grid, which was already in rough shape, and disabled Kyiv’s drinking water system.
Residents of the city were bracing for the worst Tuesday. Mariia Shuvalova, a teacher who lives in the capital, said she and her friends were preparing for a catastrophic scenario and another total blackout. “You have to be very careful and pay close attention,” she said in a brief interview.
People are relying on their loved ones in the army, on non-governmental organizations and on official Ukrainian intelligence sources to get news of an imminent bombing. In the event of an attack, bomb shelters are available, equipped with toilets and phone charging stations, and there are even nearby cafés that have generators.
—Patrice Bergeron, The Canadian Press