By Maria Tsvetkova
KYIV – The people of Kyiv waited anxiously for an expected Russian assault on the Ukrainian capital on Friday after a night spent cowering in makeshift air raid shelters or their homes.
Missiles pounded Kyiv overnight and air raid sirens wailed, increasing fears among residents who did not flee the city of 3 million on Thursday that an assault was imminent. At times, explosions and gunfire could be heard.
One resident of southeast Kyiv, who gave his name only as Sergei, said he woke at around 4 a.m. and went out to the balcony of his apartment for a smoke.
He heard an explosion and saw a flash in the skies in front of him. Five seconds later an explosion shook his 10-storey residential building not far from Boryspil international airport.
“Glass flew all around. There’s now a shell fragment in my kitchen. I was shocked,” he told Reuters. Nobody in his family was hurt.
A Reuters reporter saw a two-metre-deep crater full of rubble in the ground next to the building and windows had been shattered. A policeman on the scene said nobody was killed but several people were badly hurt.
One resident, Oxana Gulenko, a military medic whose father fought for the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, said she was thrown by the explosion about three metres from her bed.
“How we can live through it in our time? What should we think? (Russian President Vladimir) Putin should be burnt in hell along with his whole family,” she said, cleaning away broken glass in her apartment.
Others cleared away rubble in the street.
Anatoliy Marchenko, 57, who served in the Soviet army, will have to repair his balcony after the strike and could not find his cat, which ran away during shelling.
“I’m ashamed that I speak Russian,” he said and switched to Ukrainian. “I know people there (in Russia), they are my friends. What do they need from me? A war has come to my house and that’s it.”