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In Ukraine, residents keep calm and stock the bomb shelters

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By Natalia Liubchenkova
A woman holds her baby inside a bus as they leave Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022.
A woman holds her baby inside a bus as they leave Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022.   -   Copyright  Emilio Morenatti/AP Photo

It was 5 am when Kostyantyn Achkasov woke to the sounds of explosions and planes roaring overhead.

He immediately got out of bed and went online where his worst fears were confirmed: Vladimir Putin's Russia had invaded Ukraine.

Kostyantyn, 33, spent Thursday holed up in his brother's house in Kharkiv, north-east Ukraine, with his mother. He has no idea when they will be able to leave.

"Right now, everybody is staying at home. People have put fuel in their cars or got groceries. We are all waiting for the instructions from the government. It’s not safe to travel," he said.

Kostyantyn Achkasov
Kostyantyn in Kharkiv is getting ready to hide underground.Kostyantyn Achkasov

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has told Ukrainians to stay in their homes and declared martial law, but throughout the country, citizens have started packing their belongings and preparing to leave.

Residents of Kyiv flocked to the city's subway stations amid fears of Russian airstrikes and explosions in the city.

Images showed residents fleeing the city, with cars in back-to-back traffic heading out of the city. Hundreds of cars were waiting at checkpoints to enter Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Hungary as residents attempted to flee the country.

"The situation at checkpoints on the western border remains stable, there is an increase in traffic," Ukraine's internal affairs ministry said.

Emilio Morenatti/AP Photo
Traffic jam as people leave the city of Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022.Emilio Morenatti/AP Photo

As far west as Lviv, 35-year-old Yulia, said she had started packing and making sure that the bomb shelter in her apartment building had everything that the family will need.

"Earlier there were attacks on military facilities in the area, now the city is quiet, [but] I am worried about all other Ukrainians in cities where the attacks are more intense," she told Euronews.

Euronews
Yulia and her daughter in Lviv, Ukraine.Euronews

"We checked the shelter, realised what needs to be brought down there, got a supply of water. My husband and daughter and I are not planning to leave yet. There is no panic. But there is a lot of anxiety."

Elsewhere in western Ukraine, Nadia Sytch, 42, a resident of Lutsk, shelled by Russia this morning, told Euronews: "It’s hard to say how we feel. It shakes us, here and there, depending on the news that arrives."

"Overall we feel optimistic, we have no doubt that Putin will die and burn in hell, the only question is at what price. We lay our hope on God and the Ukrainian army," she said.